There have been a number of great matches in ONE Championship’s history, so many in fact, that it is difficult to narrow down a list of the best.
However, after looking over similar lists, and even one generated by the promotion itself, it’s safe to identify the following four brawls as the handful of matches you most definitely need to see if you call yourself a true mixed martial arts fan.
Angela Lee vs. Mei Yamaguchi I (ONE: ASCENT TO POWER)
Singaporean star Angela “Unstoppable” Lee had been so dominant early on in her career that she had never really been challenged since her professional mixed martial arts debut back in 2015. That all changed in May of 2016 at ONE: ASCENT TO POWER, when she faced Japanese women’s mixed martial arts veteran Mei “V.V.” Yamaguchi for the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Championship.
These two women’s atomweight warriors battled for five hard-fought rounds, with both title protagonists having moments throughout the exciting affair.
Despite Yamaguchi’s toughness and experience, the younger Lee did enough to earn the unanimous decision nod from the judges, and at just 19 years of age, she became the inaugural ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion.
Yamaguchi’s refusal to be intimidated by the young, fast-rising star and Lee’s ability to rise to the occasion in the first real challenge of her career is what makes this bout a must-see.
Since then, the two women have met in a rematch that can also easily be on this list of must-see matchups. In 2018, Lee was again victorious in the sequel against Yamaguchi, walking away with a unanimous decision win to successfully defend her title for a third time.
Aung La N Sang vs. Ken Hasegawa I (ONE: SPIRIT OF A WARRIOR)
The first battle between ONE Middleweight World Champion “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar and Ken Hasegawa of Japan in 2018 was so good that ONE Championship decided to run it back the following year.
Aung La N Sang versus Ken Hasegawa II was one of the co-main events of ONE: A NEW ERA in Tokyo, Japan, the biggest card of the year, and there was tremendous hype behind the rematch because of just how exciting their first encounter went.
When the two middleweight stars met for the first time in mid-2018, it was an absolute war inside the ONE Circle. Aung La N Sang came in as the favorite to defend his title against the Japanese challenger, but Hasegawa had a strong gameplan.
Hasegawa came in ready to catch and shoot his way to victory, as he regularly parried Aung La N Sang’s shots and fired back counterpunches and early on, Hasegawa’s heavy hands had an undeniable effect on the champion. Aung La N Sang’s toughness and durability proved to be the difference however, as he absorbed Hasegawa’s best attacks and maintained the requisite stamina to take control late.
In the fifth and final round, a battered and exhausted Hasegawa fell victim to a thunderous uppercut from Aung La N Sang that knocked the challenger out cold.
It was an epic battle that spawned one of the most anticipated rematches of 2019.
The rematch proved to be more of a show of dominance from the defending champion however, as Aung La N Sang showcased greatly improved movement to punish Hasegawa and score the second-round stoppage victory in Tokyo.
Vitaly Bigdash vs. Igor Svirid (ONE: TIGERS OF ASIA)
There is just something about the middleweight division in ONE Championship that breeds excitement. The 83.9-kilogram weight class has arguably produced some of the best bouts in ONE history.
After initially being scheduled for ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS back in September of 2015, Kazakh Igor “Lionheart” Svirid’s first defense of the ONE Middleweight World Championship against Russian challenger Vitaly Bigdash was postponed a month later at ONE: TIGERS OF ASIA.
The title bout proved to be worth the wait.
Svirid’s overwhelming power resulted in four knockdowns of Bigdash in the first round, and it looked as if the Russian was stunned each time the Kazakh champion connected on his shots. Somehow, Bigdash managed to weather the storm and survived long enough to turn the bout around.
The heavy-handed Svirid would ultimately grow tired, allowing Bigdash an opportunity to completely turn the tables as he dropped the champion with a knee late in the first round and attempted to end the match with a submission, only to run out of time.
In the beginning of the second round, Bigdash caught Svirid with a quick knee in the clinch, followed by a powerful right hand that again put Svirid down. Bigdash followed up with a barrage of hammerfists to finally get the stoppage win and become the new ONE Middleweight World Champion.
Vitaly Bigdash vs. Aung La N Sang II (ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION)
Vitaly Bigdash’s first challenger came in the form of Myanmar-born star Aung La N Sang, who had earned his title shot after four straight wins under the ONE Championship banner. The defending champion proved to be just a step ahead of Aung La N Sang, retaining the title via Unanimous Decision after five rounds of action.
In the highly-anticipated rematch, Aung La N Sang came prepared, and it didn’t hurt that he was competing in his hometown of Myanmar. Again, the action was closely contested, and the challenger was able to keep the battle standing, where he was able to build an early lead.
Bigdash’s sometimes-faulty defense was again on display, as Aung La N Sang dropped the champion early. Towards the end, the Russian’s legendary gas tank was again showing itself to be useful as he would take the bout to the ground and was able to dish out noticeable damage to the challenger from top position.
Unfortunately for Bigdash, history would not repeat itself, as this time around, it was Aung La N Sang who was given the unanimous decision nod after another five rounds of intense action, marking the start of “The Burmese Python’s” incredible reign as ONE Middleweight World Champion.
Bigdash has yet to regain his status as a top contender in the middleweight division, but he’s on the right path after picking up an impressive submission win over Yuki Niimura in late-2018.