Several of ONE’s heroes left fans speechless with stunning submission victories these past three months.
During the first quarter of 2018, we saw fluid grappling, innovative submission finishes, and a couple of results that surprised even a few of the athletes themselves.
Here are the top five submission finishes from the first three months of an epic 2018.
#1 Reece McLaren’s Grappling Wizardry
Reece “Lightning” McLaren was scheduled to challenge ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes for the title in the main event of ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY in early March, but an untimely injury changed the complexion of the contest.
The Filipino-Australian remained in the main event, and heroically defended his championship opportunity against Malaysian hero Gianni Subba in a flyweight title eliminator. And the 26-year-old made sure his title shot was not going anywhere.
McLaren looked sharp, and effectively mixed his striking with his grappling during the contest, but his shining moment came in the second round.
With two minutes left in the second frame, “Lightning” struck with a double leg takedown attempt, but switched the angle to Subba’s back, and planted the unbalanced Malaysian onto the ground. “Lightning” landed in full mount, locked in an arm-triangle choke, moved counterclockwise, and forced the tap.
#2 Christian Lee Unveils The “Terminator Guillotine”
Young sensation Christian “The Warrior” Lee wants to leave his mark on the martial arts world, and he accomplished the task in a unique way at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY. The 19-year-old Singaporean met former two-division DEEP Champion Kazunori Yokota in an action-packed featherweight thriller.
It was a back-and-forth contest, with Lee constantly getting the upper hand. But nearly 30 ticks from the end of the second round, “The Warrior” out-scrambled the Japanese veteran, secured a guillotine choke from the side, put him in a body triangle, and cranked until Yokota tapped out.
Lee later explained the submission hold was a Lee family special they had been developing, called the “Terminator Guillotine.” With the innovative move, the teenager is now the sole record holder of the most finishes in ONE Championship history at nine, and is knocking on the door of a ONE Featherweight World Title shot.
#3 Shinya Aoki’s Rear-Naked Choke Of The RNC Master
After a tough run of results, former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki desperately needed to get back into the win column. He accomplished that to start 2018 on solid footing.
The Japanese legend met former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in the promotion’s second Grappling Super-Match.
For most of the single 15-minute round, the two competitors were jockeying for position. With less than four minutes remaining, Gafurov made his move. The Dagestani dragged the Japanese warrior to the ground, grabbed his back, and furiously tried locking his legs together to secure his trademark rear-naked choke.
Aoki, however, was in complete control. He defended well, spun on top of “Cobra”, then moved to his left and cleverly transitioned behind the Russian. As Gafurov attempted to escape, Aoki hung on tight, took his back, and simultaneously locked in the rear-naked choke, all while securing one of the Dagestani’s legs.
Gafurov, the RNC master, was forced to tap to his own signature move. It was a marvelous feat, one which definitely boosted Aoki’s confidence heading into what looks to be a promising 2018.
#4 “Dagi” Taps A Submission Veteran
Saygid “Dagi” Gusyen Arslanaliev is used to obliterating his opponents in a matter of minutes. He frequently overwhelms them, and only offers a sample size of his diversified skill set.
However, the Turkish dynamo met veteran Japanese champion Tetsuya Yamada at ONE: IRON WILL, and showed just how talented he truly is.
Throughout the opening two rounds of this fast-paced lightweight affair, Arslanaliev outworked Yamada. He displayed powerful striking, reversed takedowns, scrambled out of bad situations, and unleashed his impressive ground and pound. Also, it was revealed he had the cardio to go the later rounds.
By the time the third and final stanza began, it was clear Yamada was the more exhausted of the two. Halfway through the round, “Dagi” avoided a single leg takedown, fell into full mount, remained on Yamada’s back as he rolled, and cinched in an armbar to force the submission.
Arslanaliev showed he possessed the tools to compete in the upper echelons of the lightweight division, and this solid win elevates him to the next level.
#5 Hayato Suzuki’s Grappling Domination
After experiencing his first defeat at the hands of future ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex Silva in November, Japan’s Hayato Suzuki was motivated to prove to the world that he had learned from his blunder.
Suzuki achieved that in late January at ONE: GLOBAL SUPERHEROES by having a repeat performance of his debut showing five months earlier.
He faced former world title challenger Yago Bryan, and tore through him much in the same way he did against Joshua Pacio in August 2017. Suzuki quickly took the Brazilian down merely seconds into the contest, and then methodically transitioned to more favorable positions when the opportunities presented themselves.
The relentless Japanese warrior softened Bryan up with strategic shots, and then secured both his hooks, flattened him out, and locked in a match-ending rear-naked choke at the 4:03 mark of the opening round.
In a matter of five months, Suzuki has run through a pair of world title challengers, and clearly marks his spot at the top of a highly competitive strawweight division.