Not everyone is born with greatness, but on Friday, 18 August, the heroes of ONE Championship furthered their quests for greatness through victory. As a result, the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hosted some of the most incredible action those in attendance had ever witnessed.
The man of the hour? Martin Nguyen. Two years after being submitted by Marat “Cobra” Gafurov in 41 seconds, he received his long-desired rematch and knocked out the previously-undefeated Dagestani in the second round to claim the ONE Featherweight World Championship.
Nguyen becomes the third consecutive title challenger to beat an undefeated champion (in two weeks, Zebaztian Kadestam could become the fourth when meets Ben Askren at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI for the welterweight belt).
There were lots of memorable moments from the action-packed night. Let’s take a look back and reflect on the top four.
#1 Martin Nguyen Knocks Out Marat Gafurov
Martin Nguyen experienced a couple of brief scares, as he was seemingly stunned by Gafurov just 20 seconds into the contest, and later threatened by the Russian’s trademark rear-naked choke. But as he says, it takes a punch or two for him to get started.
In the second round, “Cobra” felt comfortable trading strikes. But an ill-advised leg kick left him exposed, presenting the perfect opportunity for the 28-year-old Vietnamese-Australian to land his famous overhand right, and knock him out for a sensational victory.
With the win, Nguyen redeems himself with a highlight-reel finish for the ages, grabs the most prestigious title in Asia, and pays tribute to his late father one more time. There will be plenty of enticing match-ups for the new ONE Featherweight World Champion. Also, it will be intriguing to see how Gafurov recovers.
#2 Kevin Belingon Stuns Reece McLaren In 62 Seconds
Reece “Lightning” McLaren is the latest victim of that resurgence. Their bout was anticipated to be a close three-round affair, but in stunning fashion, Belingon ended it in the very first round. Right off the opening bell, the Aussie marched forward with punches, but “The Silencer” wisely angled out and dropped him with a picture-perfect right hand. Belingon then grounded-and-pounded his way to victory.
Now, with a pair of consecutive first-round TKOs over former title challengers, the Team Lakay gladiator may have punched his ticket to a title rematch against Fernandes.
#3 Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke’s Muay Thai Mastery
Following a busy first round, which saw Robin Catalan stand toe-to-toe with the multi-time Lumpinee World Champion and former ONE Strawweight World Champion, Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke turned on the heat.
Seconds into round two, “Kru Rong” rushed forward with a knee, and immediately clinched with his Filipino counterpart. There, the Muay Thai legend displayed beautiful knees and elbow strikes that fans of “the art of eight limbs” can truly appreciate. One to the head for good measure sealed the win for him.
Amnuaysirichoke has built himself some quality momentum in his quest back towards the gold, displaying the same skills that he used to defeat Catalan’s coach and older brother, Rene, three years ago.
#4 The Dynamism Of Christian Lee
Ever since his professional debut in December 2015, Christian Lee has dispatched his opponents with fiery passion, and never let the match leave the opening stanza. But against hometown hero Keanu Subba, “The Warrior” showcased his gas tank for the first time ever.
After a thrilling and energetic first round, which saw each man connect with their fair share of strikes, Lee entered the second with a renewed vigor. He started getting the better of the stand-up exchanges, and even wobbled Subba early on. Towards the end of the frame, he nearly submitted the Malaysian with an anaconda choke for good measure.
Once the bell rang to begin the third round, Lee was able to take an exhausted Subba down. From there, the Singaporean secured a mounted triangle choke and transitioned to an armbar, which gave him the win.
Lee demonstrated everything — improved striking, top-notch jiu-jitsu, and endurance to carry him into deep waters when he faces the top featherweights of the division. He finally achieved his breakthrough.