AFTER a fantastic 2018 for ONE Championship, Malaysia’s finest martial artists are buoyant over what the future could hold for The Home Of Martial Arts.
Former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger Agilan “Alligator” Thani is particularly enthused.
The 23-year-old admits he did not expect the promotion to grow into the massive company it has become, but he gives credit to a few superstars for helping with the organization's rising popularity.
“I’d never imagined it to be where it is today,” he begins.
"Of course, champions like Eduard Folayang, Martin Nguyen, and Angela Lee have helped propel the martial arts organization, too, with their unique style and followers.
“When I fought Ben Askren for the ONE Welterweight World Title two years ago, [the promotion] was still growing.”
Thani says that point was further proven by recent talent acquisitions like new Vice President Miesha Tate, former UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, and former UFC and Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez.
The addition of these veterans, along with the quality of the current ONE World Champions, will provide fans with even more thrilling battles for 2019 and beyond.
“Even martial artists from other promotions want to come here now,” Thani continues.
“At the same time, it is eye-opening for the Asian athletes. But don’t get me wrong — a champion like Folayang can beat some of these guys, too, and vice versa.”
That sentiment was echoed by former ONE Lightweight World Title challenger Ev “E.T.” Ting.
“ONE is connecting all the links in the martial arts industry, as it should be,” the New Zealand-based Malaysian explains.
“Most promotions invest on an event-to-event basis. However, ONE is changing the whole landscape to what martial arts originally should be by having the best fights on an equal playing field and celebrated with true respect.”
The world’s largest martial arts organization started off the year at ONE: KINGS OF COURAGE in January, an event which saw "The Panda” Xiong Jing Nan record a fourth-round TKO to become the inaugural ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion.
There were countless moments recorded in the next several months, all the way down to the promotion’s final card of 2018, ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS, which marked the first time a ONE Super Series Muay Thai bout served as the main event of the night.
What’s more, it was the first time ever ONE held 24 events in a single calendar year.
“Each division is stacked with superheroes that represent their countries and gyms from around the world,” Ting continues. "Every division and competition is an opportunity for the athletes to express their art on ONE’s platform.”
Saiful “The Vampire” Merican might not have competed on one of the promotion’s blockbuster events this year, but he paid close attention. In fact, what really caught his eye was the company’s docuseries, Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series.
“ONE Championship is searching for the world’s best martial artists through ONE Warrior Series to ensure that only the very best athletes get to compete in ONE Championship,” the 30-year-old says.
“I am privileged and honored to be part of ONE Championship’s Malaysian talent.”
This year has been an enormous one for The Home Of Martial Arts, and it plans to start 2019 off with a bang at ONE: ETERNAL GLORY in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, 19 January.