Singapore was sent into a frenzy last Friday evening, as hometown hero Angela Lee overcame a tough opponent in Istela Nunes to win by second-round submission, retaining her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship in front of a roaring Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The atmosphere was electrifying as confetti rained down on Lee following her victory, but it wasn’t just Lee who had an amazing night. Throughout the evening there were other great warriors who prevailed against the biggest names in Asian martial arts today.
The “Unstoppable” train keeps rolling on. In a bout many fans and observers expected to be her toughest test to date, the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion made it look easy, trumping everything Istela Nunes brought to the table.
Behind her well-rounded offense, Lee stifled the Brazilian with accurate striking and a smooth grappling game, eventually submitting the two-time Muay Thai world champion via anaconda choke in the second round.
In keeping her promise to be as active as she can in 2017, expect to see Lee right back in the cage shortly. A potential opponent on the horizon? Gina “Conviction” Iniong of the Philippines, who fights out of the famed Team Lakay, home to ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
A lot of hype surrounded the evening’s co-main event, as Malaysia’s Agilan Thani had a real-life fair tale storyline entering the matchup.
The young welterweight was a massive underdog against Ben Askren, despite coming into the bout undefeated and on a seven-fight win streak. In the end, however, Askren did exactly what he said he was going to do, and it wasn’t pretty for the Malaysian, who submitted to a first-round arm triangle choke.
With the win, Askren took the opportunity to call out ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash for a cross-divisional showdown, but Bigdash is already booked for a title defense against Aung La N Sang this June in Myanmar.
Perhaps Askren could in fact face the winner of that mammoth middleweight matchup, but he also mentioned another name as a possible opponent for a targeted date in August.
Which brings us to…
Coming out of nowhere to face highly-regarded welterweight Luis Santos on short notice was PXC welterweight champion Zebaztian Kadestam.
It was a come-from-behind victory of epic proportions, announcing the arrival of a new player in the welterweight division. After the fight, Kadestam wasted no time in calling out Ben Askren on social media, and Askren seemed to entertain the possibility in his post-bout interview.
If his performance inside the cage is anything to go by, expect big things from American grappling superstar Garry Tonon. Against one of the greatest submission grapplers in all of mixed martial arts, Tonon stunned the Singapore Indoor Stadium by defeating Japanese legend Shinya Aoki.
Beating Aoki at his own game was a daunting task, but Tonon fearlessly stepped inside Aoki’s world and pulled off the spectacular victory. The leglock specialist forced the tap midway into the contest via one of his trademark heel hooks.
When asked if mixed martial arts was in his immediate future, and if a rematch with Aoki under MMA rules was possible, Tonon gave a positive reply, although he did want “a couple of buffer fights” first.
Nevertheless, Garry Tonon fighting in ONE Championship would be a great boost for the promotion, who may have a budding new star in the midst of a breakout.
With the win, Tonon has solidified his status as one of the best grapplers on the planet and it will be interesting to see how he would fare in mixed martial arts competition, no matter whom the opponent.