It has been a great 2017 for ONE Championship as the constantly flourishing martial arts landscape in Asia continues to expand and more fans have jumped onto the trend of the fastest growing sport in the world. What endears avid martial arts fans to the sport is the purity of the various disciplines and techniques, which resemble a real battle in both the physical and mental aspects.
Grappling in particular has seen an epic surge in depth for Asia-based competitors as over the past year, ONE Championship’s talented athletes have impressed with some spectacular submission finishes. Here is a look back at the best submissions of the year in the organization:
#5. Jomary Torres pulls off shocking submission win in ONE Championship debut
In a recent upset among female atomweights, Jomary Torres of the Philippines made her promotional debut at “ONE: Kings and Conquerors” in Macao, China on Aug. 5 and halted Thai superstar Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige’s rapid rise through the ranks. The latter, who had previously won her first two bouts by spectacular finish, has proven to be a talented grappler.
However, Torres was quick to point out that Ishige was severely lacking in the striking department as the Filipina proceeded to test her opponent’s stand-up game. After surviving several submission attempts while softening up Ishige in Round 1, Torres would then work to finish in Round 2, sensing that her Thai opponent was slowly fading.
Just before the midway point in the second frame, the Filipina striker surprisingly caught Ishige in a choke, pressed her up against the cage, and proceeded to pursue the submission until the Thai tapped out. Watch it here.
#4. May Ooi rallies back to clinch submission win at “ONE: Quest for Greatness”
At “ONE: Quest for Greatness” on Aug. 16, Singapore’s “Mighty” May Ooi made her promotional debut against Ann “Athena” Osman of Malaysia. The former Singaporean Olympic swimmer turned martial artist stepped into the ONE cage for the first time and was undoubtedly looking to make a statement.
Before the bout, Ooi boldly predicted her victory, claiming that she would win by first-round submission. It almost looked like it was not going to happen as Osman enjoyed early success, knocking Ooi down and then plastering her with stiff ground-and-pound, but the Malaysian strawweight was unable to put the Singaporean away.
With less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, Ooi would make good on her promise as she dug deep to rally back against Osman. Ooi took her opponent’s back and caught her in a deep rear-naked choke, leaving Osman with no other choice but to wave the white flag.
It was an upset of huge proportions as the Singaporean took home the victory on Malaysian soil, and more importantly, it signified Ooi’s arrival on the biggest stage of martial arts and as a new player in the blossoming women’s strawweight division. Watch a clip from her bout against Osman here.
#3. Alex Silva secures title contender position with crafty armbar
Alex “Little Rock” Silva defeated Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito with a masterful striking performance to claim the ONE Strawweight World Championship on Dec. 9 in the main event of “ONE: Warriors of the World” in Bangkok, Thailand. But even before becoming a champion, the Brazilian fighter displayed his elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills on another elite Japanese martial artist.
Silva met an unbeaten Hayato Suzuki, a highly-regarded wrestler and Grachan champion, on the undercard of “ONE: Legends of the World” on Nov. 10. Fans expected a technical ground war with two talented grapplers each wanting to showcase their best techniques, but what they got instead was a complete shocker.
From out of nowhere, Silva out-scrambled Suzuki following a takedown attempt and latched onto an armbar that forced a quick tap from Suzuki. The result marked Suzuki’s first loss in 20 bouts as a professional and conversely catapulted Silva to an eventual world title shot weeks later.
Silva routed Naito by way of unanimous decision to clinch the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Watch a clip from their bout here.
#2. Bibiano Fernandes flaunts submission prowess to retain bantamweight crown
Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes, who has been consistently considered one of the best bantamweights in the world, has undoubtedly achieved legendary status. Although the 37-year-old Brazilian grappling wizard continues to face increasingly tough opposition, ONE Championship’s most dominant titleholder just keeps getting better.
On Aug. 5 in the headliner of “ONE: Kings and Conquerors,” Fernandes faced American contender Andrew Leone, who vowed to give the champion his stiffest test to date. However, as Fernandes has consistently proven throughout the years, he only gets better with age.
Fernandes made quick work of Leone while unveiling new dynamics in his offensive arsenal, overwhelming his American challenger with a relentless attack. After pounding Leone with hard blows on the mat, Fernandes finished matters on the ground with a classic rear-naked choke.
The most fearsome thing about Fernandes is that after over a decade of dominance, he looked the absolute best that he has ever been in his most recent bout. Watch a clip from his fight against Leone here.
#1. Angela Lee submits challenger against all odds to keep martial arts gold
When ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee took on undefeated two-time Muay Thai world champion Istela Nunes at “ONE: Dynasty of Heroes” in Singapore on May 26, the bout was expected to be the toughest test of Lee’s young career. Little did anyone know it would turn out to be more difficult than anyone could have imagined.
In the first round of their five-round title bout, Lee stormed out of the gates, and though Nunes had her moments in striking exchanges, things soon hit the ground. On the canvas, Nunes was in Lee’s world as the reigning champion threatened with a variety of submissions from dominant positions, even coming close to pulling off another twister to close the round.
It was the same story in the second stanza, where it was apparent Lee was set on finishing things early. Lee maintained her breakneck pace and soon had Nunes in an anaconda choke.
After working on it repeatedly, Lee finally succeeded in tapping the Brazilian to retain her title and remain undefeated. Watch how the reigning ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion executed the anaconda choke here.