Every current titleholder with ONE Championship has had to battle their way to the top. Some are young and undefeated, others are seasoned martial artists who hit their strides later in their careers.
Today, we look at each of their careers and identified the signature victory in their ONE Championship journey.
ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion – Angela Lee
Having spent her entire professional career with ONE Championship, Angela Lee is one of the most recognizable stars in the promotion and in its home base of Singapore. She is the promotion’s inaugural atomweight champion, and she’s defended the title three times. Her most recent title defense has to be considered her most notable.
In an epic rematch with Mei Yamaguchi, the woman she defeated initially to become the atomweight champion, Lee battled through adversity to retain the title.
Despite bouncing back from a car accident seven months prior, Lee overcame a spirited effort from Yamaguchi to retain the belt. Lee is now set to move up to strawweight to challenge for the title. If she accomplishes that goal, she may establish a new signature win.
ONE Kickboxing Atomweight World Champion – Stamp Fairtex
After earning her spot with ONE Championship following notable performances in ONE Warrior Series, Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex captured a championship in the kickboxing atomweight division of ONE Super Series.
Fairtex dethroned “Killer Bee” Kai Ting Chuang at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES in front of her countrymen. The hard-fought victory showed Stamp’s grit, toughness, physical strength and determination.
ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion – Xiong Jing Nan
Few in martial arts have been as active and as devastatingly successful as Xiong Jing Nan. The Panda is headed for her fourth match of the year in November when she faces Lee at ONE: HEART OF THE LION. Xiong has won her three previous bouts in 2018, but the first victory is perhaps the most special.
In January, Xiong scored a first-round KO of Tiffany Teo at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE. The victory won Xiong the title and set her on a path of dominance, which has led to the showdown with Lee.
ONE Strawweight World Champion – Joshua Pacio
While Joshua Pacio won the title in September via unanimous decision over Yoshitaka Naito, the win that really sticks out from Pacio came almost a year earlier at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD.
The dynamic Filipino fighter scored a spectacular KO win via spinning back fist against Roy Doliguez. The victory helped to launch him toward the top portion of future cards and announced his presence as a serious contender.
ONE Flyweight World Champion – Geje Eustaquio
Through his long and noteworthy career with ONE Championship, which dates back to 2013, Geje Eustaquio has seen his share of wins and losses, but he’s made a habit of leveling the score with his greatest opponents.
In June at ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER, Eustaquio, who was then interim flyweight champion, took on Adriano Moraes, the reigning two-time titleholder.
Moraes had defeated Eustaquio in 2014 at ONE: RISE OF THE KINGDOM via submission. Eustaquio battled his way to a close split-decision win to unify the flyweight titles while also gaining the equalizing result with Moraes.
All things considered, it was his biggest victory.
ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion – Kevin Belingon
Without question, Kevin Belingon’s upcoming battle with longtime ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano Fernandes represents the biggest match of his professional career. If Belingon wins, he will have unified the titles.
However, the win he scored over Martin Nguyen in July at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS is his biggest to date.
Despite the stiff competition brought on by Nguyen, a two-division champion, Belingon’s pressure and takedown defense gave him the edge. With the win, Belingon is now in a more solid position to face Fernandes with a chance to unify the titles and avenge an earlier loss to the Brazilian.
ONE Bantamweight World Champion – Bibiano Fernandes
Trying to narrow down Bibiano Fernandes’ signature win is like trying to find LeBron James’ best dunk. The Brazilian has had so many of them, it’s difficult to identify the best one.
For the sake of recency, the notoriety of the opponent, age and other factors, you have to consider the win over Nguyen in March at ONE: IRON WILL.
While many were fascinated by Nguyen’s pursuit of an unprecedented third world title in as many divisions, the proud and skilled Fernandes turned the talented champion away to maintain a hold on the division he’d ruled for nearly five years.
He was 38 years old and Nguyen was and is one of the hottest names in martial arts, but Fernandes still prevailed.
ONE Featherweight World Champion – Martin Nguyen
One look at Nguyen in the ring and it doesn’t take a long time to realize that he’s special. The “Situ-Asian” has flair, a high level of skill and amazing toughness. He used every piece of those skills to reach the apex of two different divisions within ONE Championship.
Nguyen defeated the legendary and beloved Eduard Folayang to win the lightweight title. That was a great win, but the victory that preceded it is still the triumph that exemplifies the sudden brilliance and incomparability of Nguyen.
He won the featherweight title after scoring a stunning second-round KO over the previously undefeated Marat Gafurov at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS in May 2017.
Gafurov had looked unstoppable up to that point, but Nguyen’s movement, slick striking and power proved to be the Russian’s undoing. It was a magnetic performance packed with charisma. It made Nguyen a star.
ONE Welterweight World Champion – Ben Askren
Simply put, Ben Askren is one of the greatest grapplers we’ve ever seen in martial arts. No matter what promotion or region of the world, everyone who knows their stuff will validate Askren’s greatness.
He’s undefeated in his martial arts career after a standout run as an amateur wrestler. Askren has run roughshod over everyone he’s faced, but the most notable opponent placed in front of him was Shinya Aoki.
With his normal level of dominance, Askren laid waste to Aoki within a minute at ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT in November 2017.
We don’t know if we’ll ever see Askren compete again — it now sounds like we might — but if that is the lasting impression from his career, it’s a fitting one. He’s still champion to this day despite announcing his retirement earlier this year, that is until ONE Championship crowns a new welterweight king in his absence, or lets him take his services elsewhere.
ONE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight World Champion – Aung La N Sang
As the only reigning two-division champion in the promotion, Aung La N Sang has become one of the biggest stars in the martial arts.
Early in Aung La’s career, he struggled to find consistency. Once he landed with ONE and found his footing with training and within the promotion, his career has taken off. He strung together four straight wins to start his career with ONE but lost his first shot at the middleweight title against Vitaly Bigdash.
The battle was a close one, but Aung La fell just short. In the rematch, that took place in his home country of Myanmar, Aung La outdueled Bigdash in June 2017 at ONE: LIGHT OF A NATION.
The battle was again closely contested, but the judges saw it in favor of Aung La. The win showed the Burmese Python’s resilience and launched his championship reign. He’s now won another title and four consecutive bouts.
ONE Heavyweight World Champion – Brandon Vera
While Brandon Vera hasn’t competed in almost two years, his time with ONE Championship is packed with memorable finishes.
After winning his promotional debut via KO over Igor Subura at ONE: WARRIOR’S WAY in December 2014, Vera smashed Paul Cheng in just 26 seconds at ONE: SPIRIT OF CHAMPIONS in December 2015.
That victory captured the heavyweight title for Vera, and he has since defended the title on one occasion. He will do so again this year.
Which ONE Championship titleholder do you find most impressive?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/25/2018.