ONE Championship has put on 13 world-class events thus far in 2021, and fans have witnessed some amazing displays of greatness. The year also marked ONE’s foray into the United States with its ONE on TNT series.
3 Best Performances in ONE Championship So Far
But which performances stood out from the pack?
After some incredible title victories, upsets, debuts, knockouts, and submissions, the dust has settled to allow us to look back at three of the finest showings from the first six months of the year. Let’s wait no longer.
These are the top three mixed martial arts performances from the first half of 2021 in ONE.
Christian Lee’s 73-Second Knockout
ONE Championship Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee had been tearing through the lightweight division up until ONE on TNT II. On that global primetime platform, he was facing Timofey Nastyukhin, who posed a new threat with his heavy hands.
Instead, it was Lee who showcased his knockout power.
In a stunning turn of events, the Hawaiian pelted Nastyukhin early and dropped him to the canvas. He pounced with additional heavy right hands until he finished the bout at just 1:13 of the first round. In what was supposed to be a considerable test for Lee to see if he could handle a powerful striker such as Nastyukhin, Lee flipped the script.
The incredible finish was not just a title defense for Lee, but a shot to the whole world that he is one of the pound-for-pound best athletes competing today. The victory was his most important yet and left no doubt about his talents.
Adriano Moraes KOs Mighty Mouse
The ONE Championship Flyweight World Championship bout everyone was waiting to see was part of the first ONE on TNT series card. One of, if not the, greatest pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the sport’s history had a chance to claim gold in a new promotion.
Instead, he was knocked out in the second frame.
Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes not only cemented his status as the dominant champion, but the Brazilian’s primetime performance also elevated his status across the whole sport. Anybody who was sleeping on Moraes before the bout with Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was awakened by the thunderous showcase.
Moraes’ stature in the division and sport as a whole is no longer up for debate. He did something nobody else had been able to do and showed why knees on the ground are an immeasurable benefit to the sport’s ruleset.
Shinya Aoki — Submission Legend
Former ONE Championship welterweight title challenger James Nakashima dropped to lightweight in a bid to establish himself as a contender. ONE gave him an opportunity against the former divisional king, Shinya Aoki.
On paper, it was an intriguing matchup. However, the Japanese star did not see it as such.
Aoki was as smooth as silk. As Nakashima attempted to land a right hand, Aoki entered and took his back from a standing position. Then it was all Aoki.
Nakashima was in peril from the beginning. Aoki locked in a tight body triangle and moved his arm across the face of his opponent. The Japanese submission ace’s grip was so powerful that the neck crank was able to finish the contest almost as soon as he began to squeeze. The victory kept Aoki’s streak rolling and once against showed how incredible his submission game is against top-tier opposition.