5 Things We Learned at ONE X
ONE X ran the gamut with up-and-comers continuing their rise, contenders making their push for gold, and title tilts to decide ultimate divisional supremacy.
But once all the dust was settled, there was much to digest.
Here are five things we learned following the year’s best martial arts spectacular, ONE X.
Atomweights Are For Real
Let’s start with the main event, where Angela Lee’s undying champion’s will was on display once again. After eating a stiff liver shot from Stamp Fairtex, it seemed like a new champion was about to be crowned. Instead, Lee survived with the utmost grit and turned the tides to retain her belt.
And what about Stamp? The striking queen continued to show that she is nowhere near her ceiling yet, which is a scary thought for her competition. The 24-year-old is going to be a problem for the division for years to come, and a championship reign seems inevitable.
Earlier in the night, Seo Hee Ham and Jihin Radzuan had victories of their own. The South Korean put herself into the forefront for a title shot that could be the final missing piece to her extraordinary legacy. At the same time, Radzuan upset the undefeated Itsuki Hirata to throw her name into the mix atop the division.
Oh, and Danielle Kelly made her ONE debut in a submission grappling match to show another star is on her way.
This division is red-hot and loaded with talent. The present is incredibly exciting, and the future is bright.
We Need More Special Rules Matches
In the post-event media scrum, ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said that he would be looking to do more mixed rules bouts in the future. And there should be no disagreement from anybody. This was insanely fun.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Demetrious Johnson are at the top of the heap in their respective sports, and they both got a chance to shine in a high-stakes bout against one another that would not otherwise be possible.
In a sport that is often talked about bringing out the best in everybody, this mixed rules superfight did just that. Creating more special bouts and excitement is a great thing for every martial art.
They do not need to be a regular occurrence, but the rare spectacle to engage fans’ interest and highlight stars is important. ONE accomplished that with this matchup, and continuing to do so in the future is a massive feather in ONE’s cap.
Adriano Moraes Deserves More Respect
It took a little bit to work himself into the match, but once Adriano Moraes got going, he was not going to be stopped. The ONE Flyweight World Champion continued his reign with a submission win over Yuya Wakamatsu.
Defeating Demetrious Johnson in 2021 was an announcement to the world. The win at ONE X was a statement. Nobody should be questioning where Moraes stands in the world as he belongs at the very top.
The Brazilian’s only three losses have been by split decision, with two coming in championship bouts where he quickly got his belt back.
The lesson is that the American Top Team product should be appreciated much more than he is currently. He is an elite talent, a World Champion, who finishes inside the Circle. Moraes brings the kind of action we want to see and delivers on a global stage each time out.
Tang Kai vs. Thanh Le Is Everything We Want
Tang Kai crushed Kim Jae Woong, the top-ranked featherweight contender, in the first round. The knockout finish, the 12th of his career, moved his KO rate to 86%.
With a nine-bout win streak, six in ONE alone, and seven of those coming by knockout, should mean he is next for ONE Featherweight World Champion Thanh Le. And think about that matchup. Think about what Le has been able to do in ONE. He is 5-0 in the promotion with five knockouts over top-tier competition.
Tang Kai vs. Thanh Le may be the most explosive match that 2022 could offer. And while nothing is guaranteed yet, it seems like this is the match that has to be made.
Use whatever cliche you would like. Say it will be fire or fireworks, say it will be explosive, say it will be can’t miss. All of those will be true. These two featherweights can crack and love to leave opponents on the canvas, and now they seem to be on a clear path toward a monster collision. The hype around this possible ONE Featherweight World Championship bout will be real.
“The Dutch Knight” Should Get P4P Looks
ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion Reinier De Ridder continues to seek out challenges, and at ONE X, he met BJJ legend Andre Galvao in a submission grappling match.
There was no hesitation from either man. The match began quickly, and the pace stayed strong through the 12-minute round before ending in a draw. Although Galvao seemed to take over late, the ability of De Ridder to compete against the Brazilian was a statement in and of itself.
The Dutchman could have challenged a less-seasoned grappler to a match. But he didn’t. He chose the man at the very top of the mountain. And that is true to his character. De Ridder has constantly called for the best of the best. It is how he took both of the titles he has now and is why he is coming off of a title defense against the ONE Welterweight World Champion, Kiamrian Abbasov.
That is an admirable quality, and for De Ridder to have his success with an unblemished professional record is remarkable. It is time that pound-for-pound lists begin to recognize one of the absolute best talents competing today.