BREAKING down the best ONE Championship bouts in 2018 can be quite a daunting task.
The task is especially daunting since the world’s largest martial arts organization unleashed new heroes, introduced its all-striking arm ONE Super Series, and had several top-notch knockout and submission finishes.
However, we were able to whittle the list down. In no particular order, here are four of the best matches from 2018. #1 Eduard Folayang VS Amir Khan
In November, two of the division’s best went toe-to-toe for the vacant ONE Lightweight World Title in the co-main event of ONE: CONQUEST OF CHAMPIONS in Manila, Philippines.
Both local hero Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Amir Khan have never put on a better performance, and although it was the former titleholder who exited the cage victorious, the Singaporean should hold his head high, too.
Khan threw everything he had in his arsenal, but “Landslide” had an answer throughout the five-round contest and constantly frustrated the Evolve product with his world-class striking.
Folayang’s reaction after claiming the prestigious belt said it all. He is a big hero from little Filipino place called Baguio City. It was the perfect way to celebrate his 34th birthday. #2 Aung La N Sang VS Ken Hasegawa
The match voted “Bout Of The Year” at the 2018 Global Martial Arts Awards was a battle fans will remember for years to come.
This titanic clash from the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar started off with a bang, but ended with a thud.
Through four rounds, Japan’s Ken Hasegawa pushed Aung La “The Burmese Python” N Sang and refused to back down. But at the start of the fifth, his power started to fade away.
Between his nonstop attack and a swollen right eye from the heavy blows he absorbed, Hasegawa was gassed. Late in the final stanza, a right uppercut from the reigning champ sent the Japanese challenger to the canvas.
Just like that, a nation was screaming at the top of their lungs for their hometown star, Aung La N Sang. The rematch at ONE: A NEW ERA on 31 March should bring just as much excitement. #3 Kevin Belingon VS Bibiano Fernandes
Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon showed just how far Team Lakay has come with their ground game at ONE: HEART OF THE LION in early November.
The Filipino displayed his all-around martial arts skills in a sterling performance against a longtime bantamweight king Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes.
Nearly three years since his first battle against the Brazilian, the ONE Interim Bantamweight World Champion flashed improved ground defense, unstoppable footwork, and enough fire in his fists to leave the Singapore Indoor Stadium with a split decision victory and the undisputed ONE Bantamweight World Title.
The biggest talking point was how he brilliantly survived a series of close submission attempts from the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
Belingon looks forward to an exciting 2019, and may have a trilogy match with the Brazilian on the horizon. #4 Giorgio Petrosyan VS Jo Nattawut
The legendary Italian kickboxer known as Giorgio "The Doctor” Petrosyan made his ONE Super Series debut in April, and it was an occasion fans inside Manila’s Mall Of Asia Arena will never forget.
He earned a tough victory against his Thai counterpart, "Smokin’" Jo Nattawut, at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR.
Both athletes showed world-class talent, but Petrosyan’s striking posed too much danger.
The Thai hero’s ‘never quit’ mentality seemed to frustrate his opponent, but the 33-year-old Italian out-struck him throughout three rounds. Petrosyan was the better athlete that night, but Nattawut’s grit and will to win is a true sign of what martial arts is all about.