Amidst the various worldwide occurrences, ONE Championship has not ceased to deliver a plethora of exciting matchups from world-class fighters. In exactly 20 events launched, the promotion has booked 17 ONE Championship title fights. From the start of the year to finish, each and every title fight has exceeded the expectations of fans around the world.
As the year comes to conclusion, I narrow down and rank the top-8 title fights of 2020. I take into consideration the physical warfare, the importance of the fight, and quality high-level mixed martial arts action.
8. Aung La NSang vs Reinier De Ridder
Not since Eduard Folayang versus Shinya Aoki has there been such a monumental upset in a ONE Championship title fight. In ONE: Inside the Matrix, an entire nation watched in stunned silence as their immortal hero succumbed to a submission defeat in the very first round.
Aung La NSang was invincible in his streak going into the fight. Winning 7 consecutive fights, Aung La NSang was a huge favorite to remain in his reign as champion. On the other hand, Reinier De Ridder, the undefeated challenger has touted that he will be the on to dethrone Aung La.
De Ridder displayed high-level BJJ in the fight. The moment he got Aung La into the ground, he immediately secured an excellent position, backpacking Aung La while having a triangle body lock. Aung La did everything he needed to do in order to prevent De Ridder from advancing in position. However, Reinier De Ridder got the job done, winning via Rear-naked choke.
Reinier De Ridder becomes the new ONE Middleweight Champion. He handed Aung La’s first loss since 2017 and halted his championship reign that lasted over 3 years and four months. This match goes down as one of the biggest ONE Championship title fight upsets in history.
7. Xiong Jing Nan vs Tiffany Teo II
Recalling two years ago, Xiong Jing Nan won her very first ONE Championship title fight against Tiffany Teo. The fight back then was lopsided as “The Panda” dominated and eventually getting a finish. However, the rematch with Tiffany Teo proved to be a much tougher assignment the second time around.
Tiffany Teo approached the fight more mature and disciplined than she did in their last outing. The much improved Teo pushed Jing Nan all through the full five rounds in a tightly-contested battle. Although the contest for the most part was spent on the feet, it was Tiffany Teo who had full control whenever the fight is brought to the ground.
Both women exchanged blows throughout all five rounds and have the scars to prove it. Unfortunately, even with her stronger showing, Tiffany failed to get the nod from the judges. Xiong Jing Nan successfully defends her Strawweight belt, marking 4 successful ONE Championship title fight wins.
6. Christian Lee vs Iuri Lapicus
A historic battle between two young and hungry fighters. Christian Lee was 22, while Iuri Lapicus was 24. For Lapicus, this was his first ONE Championship title fight. Nevertheless, Christian Lee, the champion, made quick work of the previously unbeaten challenger.
The fight opened up at a very fast pace as Christian Lee came out from his corner sprinting towards his opponent. However, the champion’s fast attempt at action costed him to get caught with a punch and Iuri Lapicus ended up taking the top position after a brief scramble.
Lapicus worked from the guard for a considerable amount of time, but he did not stay long. Lee methodically reversed positions and eventually ended on top. While Lapicus was able to acrobatically grabbed a heel-hook, Lee was experienced enough to roll out of trouble. The champion then poured ground strikes on the challenger until the fight was waved off.
Christian Lee successfully wins the ONE Championship title fight, having his very first defense. As young as he is, Christian Lee amazingly cements his status as one of the promotion’s best fighters. You don’t often get to see such immense talent and capabilities from a 22-year-old fighter.
5. Stamp Fairtex vs Janet Todd II
The rematch between Stamp Fairtex and Janet Todd might be this year’s best ONE Championship title fight in the women’s category. There was no feeling-out process, as the opening bell rang, both women threw with bad intentions. For the full 15 minutes of the fight, cracking leg kicks, beautiful punch combinations, and wild exchanges were thrown by both warriors.
Stamp Fairtex was the reigning ONE Super Series Kickboxing champion. She edged Janet Todd under Muay Thai rules in their previous outing. Both women are renowned world-class strikers equipped with technique, speed, and power. But it was Janet Todd’s accuracy and gameplan which won her the rematch.
In what was a very close fight, Janet Todd had the edge, putting on the performance of her career, connecting the heavier and more significant blows. Two of the judges gave the bout in favor of Todd, giving her a split decision victory. Janet Todd claims her first career World Title, and she did it in a massive ONE Championship title fight.
4. Nong-O Gaiyanghadao vs Rodlek PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym
Rodlek PK. Saenchai Muaythaigym won the ONE Super Series Muay Thai Bantamweight Grand Prix, which granted him to challenge the undisputed division titleholder, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao. Nong-O was undefeated in the promotion and already has several title defenses. Moreover, the clash of styles just added to the excitement that this match has built up.
Just as expected for a very crucial ONE Championship title fight, both fighters was tentative in the first round, just feeling each other out. But as soon as the 2nd round came, there was a whole different mood. It was a competitive round at the least, both would go to counter and land significant strikes of their own. Nong-O capitalized more on fighting long, throwing snapping jabs. Rodlek on the other hand was the aggressor who constantly walked off, throwing leg kicks and body shots.
In the third round, Nong-O was moving comfortably, like he already figured out the key to the fight. And that was much that happened. Nong-O threw a vicious jab-cross combination that landed on Rodlek’s chin. Rodlek fell down and was unable to stand-up before the referee finishes the count.
This would go down as one of the best ONE Championship title fights. The living legend Nong-O knocks out Rodlek, a man who was seen to be very tough and carries a granite chin. Nong-O displays once again his complete arsenal, strengthening his case to hall-of-fame.
3. Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs Jonathan Haggerty II
Opening up the year Rodtang Jitmuangnon had to fight for vindication. His last fight ended up in a controversial decision that saw him win the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai title. On the other hand, going into this fight, Jonathan Haggerty was determined to recapture his belt and prove that his loss against Rodtang Jitmuangnon was a fluke.
Just like in their first meeting, the first two rounds of the ONE Championship title fight was competitive. Although Jonathan was able to keep up, it was obvious that Rodtang carried the more powerful and hurting strikes. In round three, the momentum has significantly shifted into Rodtang’s side. The Thai superstar almost looked invulnerable as he continuously pressed forward aggressively, and not get hurt by any of the strikes that Jonathan threw.
Rodtang did not leave any doubts in the rematch, as he finished Jonathan Haggerty in the 3rd round. Rodtang battered Haggerty’s body and won via technical knockout due to three knockdowns. Not only did Rodtang defend his belt, but that fight marked a new era in the Muay Thai Flyweight division. Rodtang established himself as the king, who will reign for a very long time.
2. Kiamrian Abbasov vs James Nakashima
James Nakashima a former LFA (Legacy Fighting Alliance) Welterweight Champion was one of ONE Championship’s best prospects. Coming into the fight, Nakashima was undefeated with 12 wins. A 3-fight winning streak in ONE earned him the right to a ONE Championship title fight challenge with ONE’s welterweight champion, Kiamrian Abbasov. The two welterweights faced off in ONE: Inside the Matrix II.
At the start of the fight, things did not look good for the champion as Nakashima broke Abbasov’s nose. Though the fight was tight all the way through, Nakashima had seemed to have an edge by causing more damage and being more active. Past four rounds, the challenger seemed to have taken the fight. Abbasov was getting touched constantly and he did not have something in return.
That was until the champion pulled-off a Hail Mary knee that rocked Nakashima. Abbasov did not let Nakashima recover and released an onslaught of strikes and ground-and-pound until the referee jumped in and stopped the fight. In a massive comeback, Kiamrian Abbasov defends his title via technical knockout. If it wasn’t for that terrific knee, this ONE Championship title fight would have produced a new Welterweight World Champion in ONE Championship.
1. Martin Nguyen vs Thanh Le
Martin Nguyen reigned as the ONE Featherweight World Champion for over 3 years. He has defended his belt thrice, all in different electrifying ways. On the other hand, An LFA and UFC veteran, Thanh Le came to the UFC with a mission to achieve world championship gold. Having a 100% finishing rate, something he would carry on to the promotion, he quickly amassed 3 wins, gaining the right to a title shot.
Thanh Le had a clear gameplan in this ONE Championship title fight. He kept his range and fought long. Martin Nguyen had to receive heavy shots in order to land some back. In the third round, Martin Nguyen has started to bring the pace. The volume and accuracy of Martin slowly took over the fight, and Thanh Le showed signs of slowing down. Thanh Le went toe-to-toe with Martin Nguyen even taking a lot of shots from the champion.
Just as the champion seemingly had taken the fight and momentum on to him, a huge right straight caught a careless Martin Nguyen who had not to think of defense. From that moment on, Thanh Le poured everything he’s got and the champion never got the chance to recover. Thanh Le won the most important fight of his career, the ONE Championship title fight. He claims the ONE Featherweight champion in a stunning fashion.
Indeed the knockout of the year, and as I ranked, the top ONE Championship title fight of the year. A rematch is up in the air, possibly happening in 2021. For now, Thanh Le is the ONE Featherweight Champion! ONE Championship title fight.
The Rest of ONE Championship Title Fights in 2020
- Roman Kryklia vs Andrei Stoica
- Sam-A Gaiyanghadao vs Josh tonna
- Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy vs Magnus Andersson
- Stamp Fairtex vs Allycia Hellen Rodrigues
- Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs Petchdam Petchyindee Academy
- Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy vs Yodsanklai Iwe Fairtex
- Sam-A Gaiyanghadao vs Rocky Ogden
- Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy vs Pongsiri PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym
- Joshua Pacio vs Alex Silva
Featured Images Credits to ONE Championship
Follow me on Twitter at @Jude_Briosos and follow us @OT_Heroics and @OTHeroicsMMA for more great content!
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!