ONE Championship rocked Indonesia last Saturday, 20 January, with its first card of 2018, and it was nothing short of epic. The promotion’s opening spectacle ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE delivered tremendous drama and excitement, and fans were left on the edge of their seats.
It was a night full of fierce and competitive action, especially in the main event, which saw China’s Xiong Jing Nan and Singapore’s Tiffany Teo clash for the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Championship.
Both ladies performed at the highest levels possible, and captivated everyone with their hunger, determination, and world-class talent. In the end, the first-ever women’s strawweight titleholder was crowned, and Xiong made history by winning the belt and becoming China’s first world champion in the cage.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for Xiong and some of the other heroes who enjoyed success at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE.
“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan
While fans are still raving about the unforgettable women’s strawweight world title contest from last weekend, there are a handful of contenders just chomping at the bits for a piece of the new world champion.
“The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan has barely had any time to rest following her sensational victory over Tiffany “No Chill” Teo, and already there are some big names who would provide an incredible challenge.
Nicolini is on a two-bout win streak, and is widely-considered as one of the best female grapplers in the world. Meanwhile, the dynamic Ooi has been nothing short of impressive since making her promotional debut in August 2017, as she nabbed a pair of first-round submissions against top-notch competition.
The two hopefuls have long clamored for a women’s strawweight world championship, and both are in a great position to challenge for the belt next. Whoever is offered the golden opportunity, will have to come up with a clever way to deal with Xiong’s unbelievably powerful striking, and that alone will be interesting to watch.
Indonesian flyweight Stefer Rahardian has emerged as the country’s top martial arts talent in recent years, amassing a perfect 8-0 record with four submission wins to start off his career. His biggest victory to date came last weekend against Pakistan’s Muhammad “The Spider” Imran, where he scored a convincing unanimous decision in the co-main event.
Rahardian was quick and powerful during the three-round affair, as he utterly dominated his opponent on every front. The bout was billed as a ONE Flyweight World Title eliminator, and though the Bali MMA trainee produced an astounding performance, he did not call for a world title bout just yet.
Nonetheless, Rahardian has definitely broken into the upper echelon of ONE’s flyweight division. There are several compelling match-ups the Indonesian could engage in next, such as a battle with the Philippines’ Danny Kingad or China’s Ma Hao Bin. Also on the radar are established veterans the likes of Reece McLaren, Gianni Subba, and Anatpong Bunrad.
Whoever he goes up against next, Rahardian has definitely earned a step up in competition.
Russia’s Yusup “Maestro” Saadulaev has put together quite a win streak, and after an impressive win over Japanese legend Masakazu Imanari, he has made it a solid five in a row. It was an intense grappling war, but the 32-year-old pulled away with the unanimous decision victory.
“Maestro,” who trains with elite talents including former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov back in Dagestan, Russia, was fearless in his victory over the three-time DEEP Champion, and proves to be among the upper tier of bantamweights in ONE.
Now, he deserves another top bantamweight. It would be amazing to see him paired opposite Evolve MMA’s Leandro Issa next, as both of them have some of the best BJJ in the entire weight class. Other intriguing options could come in the form of ex-world title challengers such as wrestler extraordinaire Andrew Leone or Filipino striking ace Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon.
Many fans are thrilled with Rene “The Challenger” Catalan’s sudden resurgence. After completely obliterating China’s Peng Xue Wen at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE, the Filipino has notched his fourth-straight victory.
After a rough start to his cage career, the 39-year-old wushu world champion has suddenly become a top contender in a stacked strawweight division, which includes some of the promotion’s best talents. Catalan is confident in both the striking and grappling departments, and has proven as much in his most recent outings.
“The Challenger” should have no shortage of prospective opponents. Japan’s Riku “The Outsider” Shibuya first comes to mind as a great match-up for Catalan, as does former world title challengers Roy Doliguez and Joshua Pacio, who recently defeated Lan Ming Qiang in Manila.