Some of the most unforgettable knockouts in ONE Championship history took place in the final quarter of 2017.
They are highlight reel moments that will be rewatched over and over again for years to come, as some of the world’s most fearsome knockout artists were driven to end the year with a bang. Here are five of the very best knockouts from the final quarter of 2017.
Martin Nguyen’s History-Making Overhand Grenade
Having just lifted the prized ONE Featherweight World Championship from the previously-unbeaten Marat Gafurov via scintillating knockout just three months prior, Australia’s Martin “The Situation” Nguyen became an overnight sensation.
The Vietnamese-Australian catapulted to superstardom through a series of impressive highlight-reel finishes, culminating with his knockout of Gafurov. With an unstoppable weapon in his vaunted overhand right, Nguyen emerged as a legitimate knockout artist who is capable of turning the lights out on anyone with a single shot.
This past November, he proved that yet again. He entered hostile territory to challenge ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang before a hometown crowd in Manila at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, and set out to become the first-ever two-division world champion.
Although Folayang knew Nguyen’s best weapon was the overhand right, there was little he could do to stop it. “The Situ-Asian” bided his time, waited for just the right opening to counter Folayang, and as the Filipino hero was turning into his patented spinning back kick, the Aussie uncorked his famed overhand grenade to shock the world once again.
The win earned Nguyen the ONE Lightweight World Championship, and a place in the history books.
Ben Askren Demolishes Shinya Aoki
ONE Welterweight World champion Ben “Funky” Askren had been clear about his intentions to retire by the end of 2017, and he chose the perfect dance partner for the final performance of his illustrious career.
He defended his belt against Evolve MMA teammate and Japanese martial arts legend Shinya Aoki at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT in Singapore this past November, and he was cool, calm, and collected heading into the main event tilt.
As soon as the bell rang, the American did exactly what he has done so many times in his decorated martial arts career – use his world-class wrestling to take his opponents to the mat, and pound on them until the referee tells him to stop.
When Aoki inexplicably pulled guard on the much larger Askren, “Funky” took him for a ride, slamming the Japanese legend emphatically on the canvas. From dominant top position, the welterweight world champion began to rain down heavy punches and elbows at his Japanese rival, who had no choice but to cover up and allow the referee to do his job.
Within moments, the bout was over, and Askren had recorded his 18th and final career win of a legendary career.
Joshua Pacio Spins To Win
Joshua Pacio is one of the most talented strawweights in the world, and a former world title challenger. When he met then-champion Yoshitaka Naito in October 2016, the 21-year-old Team Lakay standout nearly clinched victory, with the coveted belt slipping right through his fingers as he succumbed via third-round submission after initially having the upper hand.
After a loss to Hayato Suzuki in August, Pacio knew he needed a big win to remind the world that he was hungry to get back into title contention. At ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, “The Passion” got his chance, as he took on fellow countryman and world title challenger Roy “The Dominator” Doliguez.
Doliguez, a former professional boxer who is nearly 15 years Pacio’s senior, would set out to test the youngster’s striking ability. Pacio would oblige, however, and then proceed to author perhaps the most exciting knockout of his career.
As Doliguez stalked his younger opposition looking to engage, Pacio feinted a leg kick, prompting Doliguez to charge forward with a counter. That threw “The Dominator” right into the path of a spinning back fist that clipped him right on the chin.
The punch instantly sent him crashing to the canvas, and gave “The Passion” his biggest highlight reel moment yet.
Peng Xue Wen’s Spectacular Slam
When you think of knockouts, powerful punches and kicks come to mind. But on the preliminary card of ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, China’s Peng Xue Wen reminded us that knockouts can come from virtually anywhere.
Taking on Cambodia’s Phat Soda, Peng was looking for his debut victory under the ONE banner. Wanting to make a name for himself on the global stage, Peng knew he had to make a statement, and that he did.
At the midway point of the very first round, the Chinese national wrestling champion seized the opportunity to showcase his exceptional skills. He took Soda’s back, lifted him up five feet in the air with a German suplex, and slammed him to the mat. Soda was out as soon as he crashed into the canvas, giving Peng the stunning victory.
It was an amazing display of technique and strength from the Chinese athlete, one that will certainly be replayed multiple times throughout his career.
Young Lion Christian Lee’s Thunderous Takedown
Throughout his young career, Evolve MMA featherweight Christian “The Warrior” Lee has been billed as the future of martial arts, showing great talent and unlimited potential.
The 19-year-old sensation took another step in fulfilling all of those this past weekend, as he concluded a masterful performance against former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in Bangkok, Thailand
In perhaps his most impressive performance to date, the young Lee brought his best against a dangerous opponent in Boku. “The Warrior” employed the perfect strategy, and completed a rapturous knockout triumph that undoubtedly signals his readiness to challenge the upper tier of talent in the promotion’s most stacked division.
Bringing the action right to Boku, Lee blasted the Japanese veteran with a plethora of powerful strikes, takedowns and submission attempts. Lee unloaded his best offense on the former world champion, all while pushing him constantly back up against the cage.
Just past the three-minute mark, Lee quickly took Boku’s back, and executed a textbook trip takedown with such incredible power that it knocked Boku out.
The win was Lee’s seventh first-round stoppage victory, and tied the promotional record for most finishes at eight.