Martial arts competition in the ONE Championship cage is one of the purest forms of combat today, combining prized traditional values such as honor, courage, and integrity with technical skills of the highest order.
As with all combat sports, no athlete wants to leave the decision at the hands of the judges, and these eight brave individuals have made it known that they always aim to stop their opponents within the distance.
Let’s take a look at some of the most skilled and exciting finishers in ONE Championship.
Marat Gafurov Of Dagestan, Russia
Once ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov drags an opponent down into his world on the ground, there is no escape. The 32-year-old Russian is known for his overwhelming strength and technique on the mat, effortlessly using his skills to gain positional advantage over opponents.
Russian fighters are known for their great wrestling, and Gafurov is no different. But what makes the undefeated champion shine brightest is when he combines his wrestling with excellent striking and black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Out of Gafurov’s 15 total victories, 11 have ended via submission. His favorite maneuver? The rear-naked choke. He has nine of those over the course of his career, including six straight – a probable world record – against ONE Championship’s top featherweights.
On 18 August in Kuala Lumpur, Gafurov is set to defend his title once again, this time in a highly-anticipated rematch against Martin Nguyen.
Angela Lee Of Singapore
ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee is the most accomplished female martial artist in the world at her age. At just 19 years old, Lee captured the title, becoming the youngest mixed martial arts world champion in history with a decision over Japanese veteran Mei Yamaguchi. It was a bout that would later be known as ONE Championship’s Fight of the Year for 2016.
A proven finisher, Lee has stopped seven out of eight of her opponents so far, with six by submission – including a rare Twister – and one by technical knockout. Now 20 years of age, Lee’s stock has risen to superstar status, with the champion now recognized the world over.
The scariest thing about Lee is that she is still young, and continues to improve with each bout. While her grappling has always been a marvel, her striking is rapidly catching up, as shown in victories over Jenny Huang and two-time Muay Thai world champion Istela Nunes.
Martin Nguyen Of Sydney, Australia
28-year-old Vietnamese-Australian Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen boasts a 100 per cent finishing rate, having stopped all eight of his foes via either submission (3) or knockout (5). The fearsome featherweight is also riding a four-fight winning streak, punctuated by victories over a handful of the top contenders in his division.
What Nguyen does incredibly well is read his opponent’s movements, and then tailor his strategy mid-fight. The result is usually a clean finish that he executes with surgical precision.
Since joining ONE Championship in 2014, Nguyen has been on an absolute tear, winning five out of six bouts, with his only loss being to reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov, in a bout he took on short notice.
With the ability to end matters in an instant, Nguyen rarely likes to drag things along, with five out of his eight victories all coming in the first round.
Nguyen will finally get the chance to avenge his only loss, when he faces reigning ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov for the second time in Kuala Lumpur this August.
Timofey Nastyukhin Of Russia
Top Russian Lightweight prospect Timofey Nastyukhin stormed onto the scene in 2014, when he came out of nowhere to stop the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang with a spectacular flying knee. It was a first-round victory that shocked an entire nation, and immediately put the world on notice.
Since then, Nastyukhin has gone on to finish two more opponents in equally stunning fashion: top talents Yusuke Kawanago and Rob Lisita. Even more impressively, Nastyukhin knocked Lisita out cleanly in a mere six seconds, tying the ONE Championship record for fastest finish.
Comprised of four submissions and six knockouts, all 10 of Nastyukhin’s victories have come within the distance. He possesses incredible power in every strike, and can end matters instantly with his fearless approach to fighting. This undoubtedly makes Nastyukhin one of the most dangerous men to be trapped in a cage with.
Having fully recovered from a recent injury, Nastyukhin is slated to return to competition in Macao next week against Japanese warrior Koji “The Commander” Ando. The Russian will have to use every bit of firepower to get through this test, as Ando is known for his ability to handle heavy hitters.
Agilan Thani Of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Agilan “Alligator” Thani may not have been ready quite just yet for his first world title shot last May when he took on reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, but that doesn’t mean the young Malaysian isn’t one of the deadliest finishers in the promotion.
Thani owns seven spectacular stoppage victories out of seven wins, which includes four submissions and three knockouts. The young Malaysian blazed a trail through ONE’s welterweight rankings with six straight finishes, using a combination of powerful striking and world-class wrestling to overpower his opponents.
Despite succumbing to Askren, Thani remains a certified finisher, and will definitely be one to look out for as he makes his way back to the ONE Championship cage on 18 August. The young gun is set to take on Sherif “The Shark” Mohamed in his return. With Thani just being 21 years of age, he has plenty of time to keep improving and sharpening his skills.
Shannon Wiratchai of Bangkok, Thailand
He is perhaps as real a martial artist as they come, incorporating a variety of different styles such as boxing, Muay Thai, karate, and judo to form his unique OneShin Striking System. 28-year-old Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai, a five-year veteran in the ONE Championship cage, is hitting his stride as one of the most skilled strikers in the promotion.
Wiratchai’s unorthodox movement and unpredictability are his greatest assets as a competitor. Riding an impressive five-bout winning streak, the Thai warrior has shown an enhanced ability to seek out highlight-reel finishes. Of his last five opponents, only Amir Khan was able to go the distance with the Thai warrior, in a gruelling contest which ended in a razor-thin split decision.
As Wiratchai progresses with his career, he has shown vast improvement on all fronts, aligning him among the top most skilled fighters in ONE Championship’s blossoming lightweight division.
With a penchant for showmanship, Wiratchai will once again delight the crowd with his all-action style and unique flair, when he climbs back into the ONE Championship cage opposite veteran “Ruthless” Rob Lisita at ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS in Macao.
Christian Lee of Singapore
Christian Lee burst onto the Asian martial arts scene with a trail of stoppage victims in his wake, finishing his first five opponents as a professional, all in the first round. His fearlessness and tenacity has earned him a reputation as a bonafide finisher in the featherweight ranks.
What makes Lee special is his ability to combine his ferocious striking capability with his high-level grappling technique. With a penchant for seeking out the quickest and most efficient path to victory, Lee has stopped every opponent he has come across, with the sole exception being Martin Nguyen who put him to sleep last August.
Returning nearly a year later, fully recovered both mentally and physically from the first loss of his career, Lee picked up right where he left off with a first-round technical knockout victory over China’s Wan Jianping.
On 18 August in Kuala Lumpur, Lee will finally get the fight he has wanted for some against fellow top prospect Keanu Subba. The two have long been on a collision course, and on the main card of ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS, fans will finally get to see the two battle it out.
Keanu Subba of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
He is Malaysia’s top featherweight talent, and one of the most exciting prospects in ONE Championship. A former MIMMA featherweight champion, 23-year-old Keanu Subba is one of the most skilled competitors in the promotion. His ability to end fights in a multitude of ways is an asset that Subba has proven to be useful
Subba can fight straight up in intense striking exchanges, or mix it up in technical ground affairs. Honing his skills with his brother Gianni and top ONE bantamweight warrior Andrew Leone at Bali MMA, Subba continues to better his skills each and everyday.
Today, the young tiger of Kuala Lumpur is on the verge of hitting his stride as one of the division’s top players. Subba believes he is only a handful of wins away from a title shot, so every performance from here on out certainly counts. Luckily for fans, Subba has never failed to deliver the action, and has produced five thrilling finishes out of five of his total career wins.
Subba, now completely healthy and ready as he has ever been, will finally step inside the cage opposite long-time divisional rival Christian Lee. He should have the hometown crowd on his side as the bout takes place in Kuala Lumpur, but it will be a terrific showdown nonetheless.