Is ONE’s Flyweight Deeper than the UFC?

Published 04/01/2021, 1:44 AM EDT


ONE Championship is a hub of talent in 2021, with The Home of Martial Arts proudly being called the hub of some of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world today.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

But there’s probably none more deeper in the promotion than that of its flyweight division, with those in the 135-pound (61.2-kilogram) category among the top in their weight class worldwide. At the top of the totem pole is reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes.
The Brazilian has called ONE Championship his realm for the better part of the last decade, the undisputed top dog in the class and has gone an impressive run where he won six of his last eight title fights.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

A big time player in every sense of the word, Moraes is at his best when the lights are at their brightest, as evidenced in his last fight, a unanimous decision win in his third fight against Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio at ONE: Hero’s Ascent in January 2019.
Not far behind is his next title challenger, the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion, and the no. 1 contender Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
The American legend who is widely regarded as one, if not the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, has his sights set on the ONE Flyweight World Championship after going on a warpath in 2019. Johnson finally gets his hands on Moraes as the two clash in the main event of ONE on TNT 1 on April 7.
Just looking at Johnson and Moraes should give everyone a glimpse of how strong ONE Championship’s flyweight division is — one that could easily rival the other top promotions in the world, UFC included.
And believe us, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix runner-up Danny “The King” Kingad, currently ranked no. 2 in the flyweight rankings, is hungry to get his due shot for the throne. The Filipino rising star was dominant in his return in January last year, taking down China’s Xie Wei at ONE: Fire & Fury to once again build his case.
Not far behind is his Team Lakay stablemate and former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio.
The wushu ace is hungry to get back in the title hunt and has been impressive in his last two fights, scoring a third round knockout over Toni “Dynamite” Tauru of Finland at ONE: Masters of Fate in November 2019 before following it up with a unanimous decision triumph over “The Running Man” Min Jong Song at ONE: Inside The Matrix 3 in October last year.
Speaking of former ONE Flyweight World Champions, previous titleholder Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov still wants a piece of the cake as he’s currently no. 3 in the flyweight rankings. He has won his last three fights all via unanimous decision, with his last fight at the expense of Dae Hwan “Ottogi” Kim of Korea at ONE: Collision Course 2 this past December. Japanese talents are also in the mix among the potential next challengers for the crown, with no. 4-ranked Yuya “Little Piranha” Wakamatsu and Tatsumitsu “The Sweeper” Wada leading the charge.
Wakamatsu has been on a three-fight win streak, with his latest victory courtesy of a thunderous first round knockout win over Kyu Sung Kim as he put him away in 106 seconds.
Wada, meanwhile, is more motivated than ever to pick himself up from his semifinal defeat to Johnson in the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix and his latest loss to Yodkaikaew Fairtex at ONE: Collision Course in December. Also driven to make his own dent is fellow Japanese bet Daichi Takenaka, who scored a third round submission win over Brazilian Ivanildo Delfino at ONE: Unbreakable two last January.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Rounding out the top five of the flyweight contenders is Reece “Lightning” McLaren of Australia, who is on a superb two-fight streak. He submitted Canada’s Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat with a rear naked choke in the first round of their bout at ONE: Mark of Greatness in December 2019, before a crushing knee shot to the body of Finland’s Aleksi “The Giant” Toivonen gave him another first round victory at ONE: Reign of Dynasties last October.
Curiously, the no. 4 Wakamatsu and no. 5 McLaren are set for a face off at ONE on TNT 3 on April 21, both seeking to boost their place in the rankings. Aside from the usual suspects, ONE Championship is also peppered with upstarts who are slowly building their case for future title shots. Chinese stud Hu “Wolf Warrior” Yong of China is on a five-match streak, with his latest a unanimous decision win over Yodkaikaew Fairtex at ONE: Fists of Fury 3 last March.
Roshan “The Indian Notorious” Mainam of India is also on a tear, victorious in his last three matches, the most recent a first round submission win over Aziz Calim of Indonesia in the same card. With an impressive mix of world-class champions, veteran contenders, and hungry young guns, ONE Championship’s flyweight division is hands-down the best in the business.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Varun Khanna

1320 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

essentiallysports's Stories