5 Things We Learned From ‘ONE on TNT I’

Published 04/13/2021, 2:45 AM EDT


ONE Championship made its highly anticipated return to United States prime-time television last week with “ONE on TNT I.” The memorable show was filled with action-packed fights, major drama, and even a little bit of controversy.

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Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan for the American contingent. 

All-time mixed martial arts great Demetrious Johnson was stopped for the first time in his career by reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes, Eddie Alvarez was disqualified for hitting Iuri Lapicus with illegal strikes to the back of the head, and Tyler McGuire lost a unanimous decision to Raimond Magomedaliev.

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Still, martial arts fans in the U.S. got a glimpse of what to expect with ONE. Let’s sum it up with these five things we learned at “ONE on TNT I.”

1) ONE Championship’s roster is full of killers

If you think all the best fighters in the world reside in the UFC, think again. It’s clear that crazy talent exists outside of North American promotions, and that ONE’s roster is full of elite fighters and absolute killers.

Even before Johnson faced Moraes, he earned the title shot with some of the toughest battles of his career. And Sage Northcutt got his face shattered by a single punch from Cosmo Alexandre.

For his part, Alvarez was absolutely destroyed by Timofey Nastyukhin in his debut, and he almost got leg-kicked to oblivion by Eduard Folayang in his next bout. The American did appear to be beating Lapicus, but he lost by DQ. It certainly hasn’t been easy for “The Underground King” since making the switch to ONE.

Meanwhile, veterans Yushin Okami and Yoshihiro Akiyama both suffered setbacks after jumping from the UFC to the Asia-based promotion.

With that in mind, ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong has repeatedly called for a massive UFC vs. ONE mega-show. And after the recent results, it’s a more compelling idea than ever before. 

2) There’s more to martial arts than just MMA

On Wednesday, American fans got a taste of caged Muay Thai in tiny MMA gloves. 

With ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon closing the show, it was the perfect end to an unforgettable evening.

The 23-year-old Thai superstar displayed his complete striking arsenal against a very game Danial Williams and showed a new audience why fans and pundits call him “The Iron Man.”

Rodtang was absolutely spectacular, firing thunderous combinations from the hip. Williams took his best shots and kept coming forward with equally stinging counters. Even then, Rodtang screamed in his face and asked for more.

If you call yourself a true fight fan, there’s no way you didn’t enjoy that showcase, which fully displayed the devastating power of Muay Thai in 4-ounce gloves.

With kickboxing and submission grappling to boot, ONE Championship is truly the home to martial arts – not just mixed martial arts. On that note, we can’t wait to see some Gordon Ryan in the Circle.

3) Adriano Moraes stands among the world’s best flyweights

Moraes has long been ONE’s most dominant flyweight champion, and last Wednesday night, he did what no man has ever done before – finish Demtrious Johnson.

Let’s put things into perspective. Many consider “Mighty Mouse” to be the best mixed martial artist of all time. And before this fight, not many fans in America knew much about Moraes. Well, they know all about him now.

The Brazilian’s resume was already impressive, but after his second-round knockout of Johnson, there’s no denying he’s one of the world’s best flyweights.

In fact, Johnson said it best after their fight. If Moraes continues to win and showcase his skills in front of a larger audience, he might just thrust himself into the GOAT conversation.

4) Eddie Alvarez still has that fire

At 37 years of age and nearly two decades into the sport, there’s no disputing that Alvarez is a shopworn veteran. But that hasn’t diminished the fire that burns inside of the Philadelphia native. 

In fact, “The Underground King” looks as motivated as ever to become the first fighter in history to win World Titles in the three major global MMA promotions.

Alvarez already has the UFC and Bellator lightweight straps on his mantle, so the ONE Championship belt would complete his collection.

Can he do it? Fans will have to wait for the rematch with Lapicus to find out if he can earn a title shot. Sityodtong recently announced Alvarez and Lapicus will run it back as soon as both fighters are ready to go. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later.

5) Hydrated fighters fight best

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What’s the biggest difference between ONE and other organizations? It’s simple – the promotion’s weight management and hydration system. 

Instead of dehydrating themselves to meet the weight limit, ONE fighters compete at their “walk around” weight. Athletes are tested for hydration throughout fight week, and they aren’t allowed to cut massive amounts of water weight before a bout. 

This is a much safer process than the archaic system other promotions have used for years. 

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In ONE, fighters aren’t killing themselves in the sauna before weigh-ins. Because of that, athletes are at full strength instead of drained when they enter the Circle. This has resulted in a finishing rate above 70 percent in the promotion, along with overall tremendous performances.

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Varun Khanna

1304 articles

Starting off as a tennis author in 2018, Varun Khanna has gone on to contribute to EssentiallySports in various capacities. After setting up interviews with the likes of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Alizé Cornet, and Noah Rubin, Varun is now part of all major ATP and WTA press conferences and has gone on to pen more than 1300 articles for EssentiallySports. He now heads the tennis and NBA division of the organization.

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