After initially running a host of events during the COVID-19 pandemic that largely focused on the promotion’s muay Thai and kickboxing talent, ONE Championship is all set to unleash the cream of its MMA roster, starting Oct. 30 at “ONE Championship 118: Inside the Matrix.”
The promotion has stacked the deck for its return to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, with its six-fight card scheduled to feature four MMA title fights, plus a showcase matchup featuring former lightweight champion Eduard Folayang.
ONE Championship 118 takes place Friday, Oct. 30 at in Singapore. The event streams live on the ONE Super App and B/R Live.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen ONE’s biggest stars in action, so here’s a quick reminder of their progress as four of their champions prepare to make their return at the end of the month.
Aung La N Sang
Two-division champion Aung La N Sang puts his middleweight title on the line against Dutch contender Reinier de Ridder as “The Burmese Python” looks to continue his run as ONE Championship’s biggest star.
N Sang (26-10) is a huge star in his native Myanmar, where he carries the sort of fame that has seen him become a national hero. He lives and trains in the U.S., where his game has been taken to new heights under the tutelage of Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA.
Since capturing the middleweight title in June 2017, N Sang has gone undefeated, and added the promotion’s light heavyweight title to his resume when he defeated Alexandre Machado in February 2018. A pair of knockout wins over Ken Hasegawa sandwiched a first-round knockout of Mohammed Karaki as he cemented his position as the ONE’s light heavyweight king. He then knocked out heavyweight champion Brandon Vera, who moved down to try to prise the light heavyweight belt from his grasp.
Now N Sang is all set to return to middleweight on Oct. 30 to face undefeated Dutchman De Ridder (12-0), who has finished nine of his career wins by submission.
While older sister Angela Lee was already a ONE Championship star, younger brother Christian Lee was sharpening his own skills with championship ambitions of his own, and now the 22-year-old has two belts to his name.
Lee (12-3) made his professional MMA debut in ONE and has competed under the bright lights ever since. After going 9-1 with the promotion with a 100 percent finish rate in his victories, he earned a featherweight title shot against the only man to defeat him at that point, Martin Nguyen. He lost via split decision, but despite his defeat he showed that he belonged at the very highest level. A disqualification loss to Edward Kelly for an illegal suplex then put him on the first losing skid of his career, but he hasn’t lost since.
A pair of first-round TKO victories, including a finish of Kelly in their rematch, earned him a shot at lightweight champion Shinya Aoki, and he finished the Japanese legend early in the second round to capture the title.
He then stepped in as a substitute to defeat the highly-touted Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev in the final of the ONE lightweight grand prix to claim the first decision win of his career and capture the tournament title.
Now he’ll take on the dangerous Iuri Lapicus (14-0) in Singapore looking to register his first title defense and cement his place at the top of ONE’s lightweight division.
The promotion’s first simultaneous two-division champion, Martin Nguyen is now focusing his efforts on the ONE featherweight division, and the Australian will look to continue his winning run in the division as he puts his title on the line for the fourth time.
His only defeats since he dethroned Marat Gafurov for the title have come on the scorecards in title tilts against bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes and interim bantamweight champ Kevin Belingon. But, in ONE’s featherweight division, “The Situ-Asian” has been untouchable.
Wins over Christian Lee, former champion Narantungalag Jadambaa and Koyomi Matsushima cemented his status as ONE’s premier featherweight, while his stunning one-shot knockout of Eduard Folayang saw him become a two-division champion as he captured the lightweight title in spectacular fashion.
But Nguyen opted to relinquish the lightweight belt to focus on his featherweight strap, and he puts his title on the line on Oct. 30 against American knockout artist and “The Ultimate Fighter” veteran Thanh Le (11-2), who has claimed each of his three ONE Championship wins by knockout in a combined time of 4:31.
Xiong Jing Nan
China’s Xiong Jing Nan (14-2) arrived in ONE Championship with a bang and has delivered high-octane performances ever since as she surged to the promotion’s strawweight title and traded wins with Angela Lee in a pair of thrilling five-round wars.
“The Panda” downed the undefeated Tiffany Teo to capture the vacant strawweight title back in January 2018, then scored a dominant decision win over Laura Balin to register her first title defense. A third-round knockout of Samara Santos set up a champion-vs.-champion clash with Angela Lee, and Xiong showcased her remarkable gas tank and relentless striking to hand Lee her first career defeat, taking home a fifth-round TKO.
The pair then faced off for a second time, this time for Lee’s atomweight title, at “ONE Championship: Century – Part 1,” but this time Lee gained revenge as she retained her title via rear-naked choke submission with just 12 seconds left in the final round.
Hopes are high that the pair will meet again further down the line in a trilogy fight, but for now, Xiong faces a different rematch, with Singapore’s Teo (9-1) set to challenge the Chinese champion for the title in a rematch of the fight that saw Xiong crowned champion in January 2018.
‘ONE Championship 118: Inside the Matrix’: Fight card
- Aung La N Sang vs. Reinier de Ridder – for middleweight title
- Christian Lee vs. Iuri Lapicus – for lightweight title
- Martin Nguyen vs. Thanh Le – for featherweight title
- Xiong Jing Nan vs. Tiffany Teo – for women’s strawweight title
- Antonio Caruso vs. Eduard Folayang
- Ritu Phogat vs. Nou Srey Pov