Five Potential ONE Championship Matchups Fans Would Love to See

There is certainly no shortage of thrilling matchups in ONE Championship, with each division stacked with Asia’s best martial arts talent. To compound this, many athletes also crossover to other divisions, to ensure the best take on the very best.

While martial arts fans in Asia have seen their fair share of memorable contests inside the ONE Circle, there are still a handful of potential matchups that come to mind, that all have the probability of rocking entire arenas in pure excitement.

A handful of these matchups may be nothing but dreams, but fans still crave to see them through to reality. Let’s take a look at a short list of incredible showdowns we want to witness.

Who do you think wins these bouts? Here are five potential ONE Championship matchups fans would love to see.

1) Shinya Aoki vs Garry Tonon

Two-time former ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling superstar Garry “The Lion Killer” Tonon are two of the most highly-decorated martial artists in the world. They are known for their swift and dangerous techniques on the mat. There are only a select few with the ability to survive in their web of grappling mastery.

Although Aoki and Tonon have faced each other before, in ONE Championship’s first ever Grappling Super Match which Tonon won via his signature leg lock submission, the two have yet to compete against each other in mixed martial arts.

Tonon is currently a featherweight, while Aoki has spent his entire ONE career at lightweight (with the exception of one bout against Ben Askren at welterweight), so they could meet somewhere in the middle at a catchweight, presumably. Given their styles, however, the slight difference in size and weight should be a non factor.

A potential matchup between the two would likely be spent mostly on the ground, with a few strikes thrown here and there. Let’s be real. No one will expect this bout to stay on the feet. Fans can look forward to a high-level grappling affair, with a technical showcase of skill and refined talent that purists will enjoy, coupled with the excitement of a mixed martial arts contest.

It would certainly help further the discussion as to who the best grappler is in mixed martial arts.

2) Christian Lee vs Eddie Alvarez

The charismatic and ridiculously talented young Christian Lee is the lightweight division’s king, and while many challengers are waiting in the wings for their shot at the title, a matchup against American veteran Eddie Alvarez has fans salivating at the mere idea of it. It will essentially pit the reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion against the former UFC lightweight titleholder.

Lee has all the skills necessary to beat Alvarez. He’s a fast, explosive, and powerful striker with even better wrestling and grappling skills. Alvarez is much of the same, with a similar overall style. But what Alvarez does have on Lee is experience.

Alvarez has been a professional for nearly two decades, having faced the very best in multiple promotions including names like Roger Huerta, Shinya Aoki, Donald Cerrone, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis, Rafael Dos Anjos, Conor McGregor, and Justin Gaethje. The list goes on and on.

While Lee’s victory over the highly-regarded Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev last October was no doubt impressive and his signature win thus far, he’s only been competing professionally for five years, and his resume is nowhere near the caliber of Alvarez’s.

Still, the prospect of a matchup between “The Warrior” and “The Underground King” is one that definitely excites.

3) Bibiano Fernandes vs Demetrious Johnson

Reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes is arguably the best bantamweight in the history of mixed martial arts. ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion and former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is considered by many to be the pound-for-pound best in the sport regardless of weight class.

What makes this an interesting matchup? Both men have been dominant in their respective weight classes, with very few true rivals. Fernandes is also Johnson’s long-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach, and the two are very good friends.

Fernandes is a BJJ ace, but can also strike with the best of them. “The Flash” has defeated powerful strikers such as Kevin Belingon and Martin Nguyen. He has very little weakness, if any.

Johnson, on the other hand, is adept in all areas of the game. The American is exceptional all-around, and can finish opponents in a variety of ways. His list of victims include Kyoji Horiguchi, John Dodson, Henry Cejudo, Ray Borg, and Danny Kingad.

A Fernandes-Johnson showdown would be absolutely epic, and would headline any ONE Championship card. It will settle the debate on who the best is in the lighter weight divisions.

4) Angela Lee vs Stamp Fairtex

23-year-old female mixed martial artist “Unstoppable” Angela Lee is arguably the face of ONE Championship. She’s the youngest mixed martial arts world champion in history, and one of the most dominant champions in the promotion.

But being the champion means everyone is coming after you, and a handful of rising young stars are quickly closing the gap. One of those young stars is former two-sport ONE World Champion Stamp Fairtex.

A product of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series, Stamp is the reigning ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion, who also previously held the ONE Atomweight Kickboxing World Championship. Ever since Stamp made her intention of chasing a mixed martial arts world title known, it put her on a collision course with Lee.

Stamp has since gone a perfect 4-0 in her mixed martial arts career thus far, with notable victories over Asha Roka and Bi Nguyen. Although Stamp is considered by many to be the best striker among women in ONE, she’s also shown steady improvement in her ground game, which will of course come in handy against a grappling ace in Lee.

Lee is expected to defend her title next against Stamp’s teammate Denice Zamboanga. But assuming Lee can get over that hurdle, a matchup against Thailand’s warrior princess may not be too far behind.

5) Joshua Pacio vs Lito Adiwang

It may seem absurd on the surface, as both Joshua Pacio and Lito Adiwang are members of the same stable in Team Lakay. They aren’t just teammates, too. Members of Team Lakay consider themselves as brothers who’ve formed a bond thicker than blood. It is unthinkable that any of them would face their brother in the ONE Circle.

But the reality is, the two could very well co-occupy the top spot in the rankings in short order. With Pacio being as dominant a champion as any in ONE, and with Adiwang pretty much blasting anyone he’s put in the Circle against to smithereens, the two could soon have no one left to face but each other.

Pacio is a methodical and refined athlete, and highly-skilled in every aspect of mixed martial arts, be it in the striking, wrestling, or grappling department. He’s on his second reign as ONE Strawweight World Champion and is steadily improving with each outing.

Adiwang, another ONE Warrior Series product, is a buzzsaw who has carved a path of destruction since his ONE Championship debut. He’s also shown tremendous submission skills as evidenced in his victories over Senzo Ikeda and Pongsiri Mitsatit.

It’s inconceivable that the two would throw their brotherhood to the wayside and test their skills against each other in the Circle. But if they do, “The Passion” and “The Thunder Kid” would certainly give fans a memorable showdown.

Author: Robert Belen

Robert Belen is a long-time combat sports writer for dSource Boxing. An avid sports fan, he knows no fear nor partiality in his reporting. If you have a problem with him, tell it to his face. (We bid you not.) You can follow him on Twitter @robertbelen

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