The influx of talent to the ONE Championship roster is undeniable. The Singapore-based martial arts organization has consistently signed athletes to join its ranks, and each month, the level of talent seems to increase. Upon signing with the organization, athletes likely envision themselves as champions of the promotion down the line.
When compiling this list, there is focus on athletes who had not yet become ONE world champions. However, the following six competitors are destined to one day reach that level with the organization.
The 28-year-old American has had six bouts with ONE, and he’s two wins away from capturing the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix prize. After demolishing Honorio Banario in the Quarterfinal matchup back in January, Tynanes has a massive challenge ahead of him. He’ll lock horns with Timofey Nastyuhkin in the semifinals.
Nastyuhkin pulled off one of the biggest upsets in mixed martial arts in 2019 on 31 March at ONE: A NEW ERA. The rugged Russian knocked out former world champion Eddie Alvarez in the first round. While that performance was impressive, don’t expect Tynanes to flinch. He has the look of an elite lightweight, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he pounds his way through to the finals. There he may have an equally formidable future champion standing in his way.
Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev
Few athletes signed with ONE have had as impressive of a run as Arslanaliev. At just 24 years old, the young Russian has already established himself as one of the scariest competitors in the lightweight division. Arslanaliev has significant power, and he put it on display in his last matchup, a semifinal matchup with title challenger Amir Khan. Arslanaliev crushed Khan with a combination of destructive punches that KO’d the tough Singaporean.
Arslanaliev has just one defeat on his record, and that loss came from a disqualification for kicking a grounded opponent. He has looked like a wrecking ball, and he’s waiting on the other side for the winner of the Nastyuhkin-Tynanes matchup. The winner of the tournament will likely get a shot at new champion Christian Lee sometime in 2020.
Speaking of Grand Prix, the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix is into its semifinal stage. Favorite and all-time great Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is set to take on Tatsumitsu Wada in his second match in the tournament. Johnson scored a second-round submission win over Wada’s countrymen Yuya Wakamatsu in the quarterfinals. Johnson had a slightly tougher time with Wakamatsu than most expected, but there was nothing that happened during the match that would make you believe he won’t win the Grand Prix, and then go on to face Adriano Moraes for the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
As excellent and technical as Moraes is, Johnson should still be able to overcome the Brazilian and win the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
Zebaztian Kadestam is the reigning ONE Welterweight World Champion, but Kiamrian Abbasov is coming. The 25-year-old Kyrgyzstani warrior has been strengthening his case to challenge for the ONE World Title with each bout. He’s currently 21-4 as a professional with 14 finishes to his credit. After dropping his ONE debut to veteran Brazilian striker Luis Santos, Abbasov has reeled off three consecutive victories over Nurselton Ruziboev, Agilan Thani and most recently, Japanese legend Yushin Okami.
Abbasov is the kind of well-rounded martial artist who can push Kadestam and even defeat him. Abbasov can’t be more than one more win away from a title shot–if he hasn’t already done enough to qualify.
If Angela Lee vacates her ONE Women’s Atomweight World Title to pursue the strawweight crown, everyone should be looking to see who’s next to step up as a potential champion in the weight class. Lee’s rival Mei Yamaguchi comes to mind as a strong candidate. However, Malaysia’s Jihin Radzuan is another athlete to consider.
While she hasn’t yet established her finishing skills, Radzuan has outworked and smothered opponents with her grappling skills. She’s coming off a tough split-decision loss to Gina Iniong in her last bout. Radzuan is so young; she has plenty of time to bounce back. Her title opportunity and coronation aren’t imminent, but Radzuan is one to watch.
Garry Tonon has had just five professional mixed martial arts bouts, and he might already be the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner on the ONE Championship roster–he’s that dangerous on the ground. With every match, Tonon appears to get stronger with more validity to his stand-up game. The 27-year-old American is still learning mixed martial arts overall, but because he possesses such a strong base with his grappling, the sky’s the limit.
In his last match against Yoshiki Nakahara, Tonon baited his opponent into a striking scenario before shooting hard for a takedown and a subsequent heel hook that forced the submission. The quickness of the move and transition had to be a bit scary for potential opponents to watch. Barring something unforeseen, Tonon should be competing for a title within a year or so.