5 ONE Championship MMA fighters who could win a title in 2022

ONE Championship atomweight world Grand Prix champion Stamp Fairtex (top) might see gold around her waist in 2022. (Image courtesy of ONE Championship)
ONE Championship atomweight world Grand Prix champion Stamp Fairtex (top) might see gold around her waist in 2022. (Image courtesy of ONE Championship)
Duane Lucas Pascua

2021 has been a landmark year for ONE Championship. After fighting through the crushing presence of a global pandemic in 2020, the Asian promotion kept things going in the year that followed. Boasting over 30 events in 2021, ONE Championship is slowly returning to normalcy.

The Asian promotion has produced great moments where fighters rose to the occasion and made the year their own. Lots of fighters are riding winning streaks and massive momentum coming into the next calendar year. Though some other fighters sat through 2021 due to Covid restrictions, their stock remained intact due to their performance in the past.

Some of these warriors might be slated, if not already, for a title shot next year and could possibly win straps before 2022 ends.

Today we list down five ONE Championship MMA fighters who will most likely be wearing belts in 2022. We cite past performances and how they stack up with the current champions as major criteria. With that said, let's get on with the list.

#5. Murad Ramazanov - ONE Championship welterweight

Fresh off his dominant win over Zebaztian 'The Bandit' Kadestam at ONE: Winter Warriors II, undefeated welterweight Murad Ramazanov might be next in line to fight for the belt.

When you size him up against welterweight champ Kiamrian 'Brazen' Abbazov, Ramazanov looks visibly larger at first glance. Other than that, both fighters have wrestling backgrounds and so this boils down to (1) who has better striking and (2) who has a better gas tank.

In his last loss, champion Abbazov faded in the latter rounds against the wrestling and grappling attacks of Luis Santos. As for Ramazanov, the Dagestani maintains a steady pace and explodes only when necessary.

Abbazov might have the advantage when it comes to striking but it's undeniable that Ramazanov has the pace and gas tank to sap the champion's energy.

#4. Jarred Brooks - ONE Championship strawweight

Though he only has one fight in ONE Championship so far, Jarred 'The Monkey God' Brooks already has so much momentum behind him. His utter decimation of Lito 'Thunder Kid' Adiwang back in November tells us that the decorated wrestler is a force at 125 pounds.

His combination of unstoppable wrestling pressure and heavy top game can stifle even the most explosive and dynamic fighters. Looking at the strawweight roster, you'd be hard pressed to name a better wrestler than Brooks.

Even before entering ONE, Brooks had already proven that he could wrestle the deadliest of strikers in the world. His close 2017 bout with former UFC flyweight champion Deiveson 'Deus Da Guerra' Figueiredo is a perfect example.

Against current ONE Championship strawweight champ Joshua 'The Passion' Pacio, look to see Brooks employ his tried-and-tested formula.

It's been said that the most important aspect of MMA is wrestling. It allows a fighter to decide where the fight takes place. Judging from how 'The Monkey God' destroyed Pacio's teammate Adiwang, it's safe to say that Brooks has that advantage over the champ.

#3. Garry Tonon - ONE Championship featherweight

With a fight for the belt already set for early 2022, Garry 'The Lion Killer' Tonon is the closest to getting the strap on this list.

The American's run in ONE Championship's featherweight division has been squeaky clean thus far. Though already a legend in submission grappling, Tonon never rested on his laurels as he continually improved inside the cage.

Under the tutelage of martial arts pioneer and jiu-jitsu genius John Danaher, Tonon has successfully translated his world-class grappling into MMA.

In his undefeated MMA career, 'The Lion Killer' has developed a dangerous standup game to complement his jiu-jitsu. Understanding that no one would dare tangle with him on the ground, Tonon found confidence to experiment and grow his striking arsenal.

Tonon is not just a grappling wizard anymore, he's become a complete MMA fighter. ONE Championship featherweight titleholder Thanh Le would have to study Tonon's game extensively if he wants to impose his knockout power on his challenger.

The best chance for the champion to win is to keep the fight on the feet, obviously. How to do that? Well, that's a puzzle that is still yet to be solved.

#2. Stamp Fairtex - ONE Championship atomweight

ONE Championship atomweight Grand Prix tournament winner Stamp Fairtex is on the cusp of achieving history. Having already won the atomweight Muay Thai and kickboxing titles, the charismatic Thai could become the first three-sport champion in ONE Championship.

With a spectacular 2021, Stamp has silenced all her critics as she ran roughshod in all of her outings this year. Her armbar finish of known grappler Ritu Phogat in her last fight showed Stamp's increasingly dangerous grappling game.

Against jiu-jitsu black belt and ONE Championship atomweight queen Angela 'Unstoppable' Lee, Stamp might have to rely on her striking to get the job done. Lee has had major problems with skilled strikers in the past and Stamp is arguably the best in the division right now. Throwing in her competitive grappling skills, Stamp may have the formula to repel Lee's jiu-jitsu assault to keep the fight standing.

Who knows, however, if Stamp surprises everyone again by attempting to submit a grappling specialist for the belt. We've seen it happen before.

#1. Demetrious Johnson - ONE Championship flyweight

Despite a major setback with a KO loss this year, Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson's chances of becoming a ONE champion are still quite high. We simply cannot discount the MMA GOAT-contender's achievements in his legendary career.

With his ONE Championship run clean except for one loss, Johnson is still the No.1-ranked flyweight on the roster. His utter domination of the UFC's 125-pound division was legendary and he carried that momentum to ONE Championship.

Moving to the Asian organization, however, has been quite the adjustment for 'Mighty Mouse'. The weight classes are heavier because ONE doesn't allow weight cutting. Thus, 'Mighty' was forced to fight at 135 pounds.

This may have played a factor in his loss to champion Adriano 'Mikinho' Moraes. Johnson's major losses before leaving the UFC were all at 135 pounds.

Given enough time to adjust to the weight and extensive study of their previous fight, Johnson can still beat Moraes for the gold.

Edited by Harvey Leonard
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