2019 ONE Championship Year in Review [Jul-Dec]
DJ's successful entry into ONE stays on course, while Angela Lee gets her revenge as we dissect the second half of 2019.
In ONE Championship, the second half of 2019 continued to suck for Angela Lee as she dropped her second fight on the trot; this time to BJJ icon Michele Nicolini. Lee had some success, but her ground game couldn’t match that of the Brazilian:
I knew that was her game plan, just to dive in to go to the ground and I should've stopped it better. I should've done more to keep it on the feet. The last round I felt really good, getting some ground and pounding, getting back up to my feet and I wish I could have had the fight on the feet more, but unfortunately, that's how it went.
Featherweight champ Martin Nguyen retained his title with a second-round stoppage of Koyomi Matsushima at Dawn of Heroes when Matsushima wore a heavy right before collapsing into a suicidal takedown attempt. While Jonathan Hagerty’s surprise championship lasted only a single fight as he fell victim to the power of Thai Rodtang Jitmuangnon.
The lightweight Grand Prix got a mix up as semi-finalists Timofey Nastyukhin and Lowen Tynanes succumbed to injury. This left a back door open for Eddie Alvarez who overcame Eduard Folayang to claim a spot in the final against Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev.
Demetrious Johnson had to survive almost a whole first round with Tatsumitsu Wada on his back in order to take the decision and book his spot in the flyweight Grand Prix final.
Ilias Ennahachi found a way to put his left hand in Petchdam Petchyindee Academy’s face to brutal effect to claim the inaugural Flyweight kickboxing title.
Nong-O Gaiyanghadao defended his bantamweight Muay Thai belt with a five-round split decision over Algerian contender Brice Delval at Immortal Triumph in Vietnam.
Then ONE threw themselves a party for their 100th event - ONE: Century - and decided to pull out all the stops for the insane doubleheader featuring 22 fights.
It was headlined by Angela Lee’s rematch with Xiong Jingnan, this time at atomweight. Lee managed to get the better of Xiong on the ground, eventually taking her back and choking her in the closing seconds of the fifth. The win allowed Lee to end her horror year on a high.
The madness that was the lightweight Grand Prix somehow ended up with Saygid Guseyn Arsalanaliev meeting Christian Lee in the final after Eddie Alvarez also pulled out with injury. Lee, the lightweight champ who wasn’t even involved in the tournament beforehand, relied on his family grappling to control Dagi and take the decision. In winning the Grand Prix he earned the right to fight himself for his own lightweight title.
Demetrious Johnson stayed on target and outclassed Danny Kingad everywhere to take the final of the flyweight Grand Prix. The win sets up a tantalising title shot against Adriano Moraes early next year.
And in part two of the Century event, Giorgio Petrosyan found his way to the final of the kickboxing Grand Prix despite losing his first match. But he made the most of the opportunity to outpoint Sammy Sana and take home a massive million-dollar novelty cheque.
Rodtang Jitmuangnon and Walter Goncalves beat the stuffing out of each other for five rounds in their flyweight Muay Thai championship bout, with Rod taking a close decision. Bibiano Fernandes made it three and one in his four-fight series against Kevin Belingon, defending his title with a rear-naked choke in the first. While Aung La N Sang ended the massive event by trading the heaviest hands with Brandon Vera for the light heavy title. It could have gone either way, but Vera’s chin gave out first and N Sang claimed yet another defence.
Kiamrian Abbasov put on a savage display in the headline of Dawn of Valor to beat Zebaztian Kadestam and secure the welterweight belt with a clear unanimous decision. Lightweight kickboxing champ Regian Eersel defended his title by dropping Dutch legend Nieky Holzken in the first and surviving the fightback to take the decision and prove his first victory wasn’t a fluke.
And in their final event of the year, Mark of Greatness, ONE handed out two new kickboxing titles. The first went to Alaverdi Ramazanov who dropped Zhang Chenglong in the third to take a decision. And the second went to former Muay Thai champ Sam-A Gaiyanghadao who played matador to the onrushing Wang Junguang for five rounds to capture the strawweight title by unanimous decision capping a big year for Asia’s biggest fight promotion.