Without a doubt, ONE Championship houses some of the best combat athletes in the world. Showcasing fights across MMA, kickboxing, Muay Thai and submission grappling, the Asian organization employs the best of the best from different martial arts backgrounds.
People love athletes for their awesome feats of strength, speed, agility and just overall control of their anatomy. At ONE, you'll see the highest levels of athleticism from different disciplines and bear-witness to the marvelous feats the human body can truly achieve.
Just look at this suplex-turned-armbar submission by ONE flyweight Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson back when he was dominating in the UFC:
Today, on the topic of athleticism, we will focus on fighters' speed. In combat sports, being fast is more than just getting from point A to point B in the least amount of time possible. It's more complicated and nuanced than that. We have to take into account positioning, timing, vision and technique to execute moves within the blink of an eye.
With that said, we will list down five ONE fighters who exemplify, in one way or another, exceptional speed inside the ring. We know we can't possibly reduce the list to just five, but we're listing down the ones that leave the the most impression on us.
With that said, let's get on with the list.
#5. ONE Championship featherweight Muay Thai fighter Tawanchai P.K Saenchaimuaythaigym
In the sport of Muay Thai, or any combat sport that involves striking, much of how someone defends an attack relies on timing. Most fighters have a "tell" when they're about to throw something big like a haymaker or a head kick. Good defenders can read someone's tell and defend the oncoming strike cleanly.
22-year old ONE Championship Muay Thai sensation Tawanchai P.K Saenchaimuaythaigym, however, has no tell. This makes him one of the fastest fighters in the sport as his opponents barely have enough time to react to his debilitating strikes.
Just look at that beautiful headkick that Tawanchai threw with barely any set up whatsoever. He just blasted Sean Clancy with a headkick so fast that the Irish fighter barely saw coming.
Tawanchai's unbelievable ability to throw his kicks as fast as his jabs makes him perhaps the fastest kicker in ONE Super Series and a deserving spot on our list.
Watch his full fight with Sean Clancy here:
#4. ONE Championship strawweight Muay Thai fighter Jackie Buntan
Hands, hands, hands. Filipino-American Muay Thai speedster Jackie Buntan can throw hundreds of fists while you blink.
Though her reaction time and kicking have merits when it comes to speed, it's Buntan's punching that truly shines.
The ONE Championship strawweight sensation's hands are like lightning. You can barely keep up with her shockingly fast five-punch combinations in the pocket. Though she's a Muay Thai specialist, it would be interesting to see Buntan slug it out with the best in boxing. Her hands are that good.
At the moment, ONE Championship doesn't have a strawweight champion for either Muay Thai or kickboxing yet. Considering Buntan's handspeed alone, we'd say she is a strong contender for both.
Watch this highlight video to see Buntan's handspeed in its full glory:
#3. ONE Championship strawweight Lito Adiwang
The best way to describe ONE Championship strawweight Lito 'Thunder Kid' Adiwang's fighting style is to watch the Tasmanian Devil wreak havoc. You know that Looney Tunes character that spins like a top at warp speed and just destroys everything in his path? That's Lito Adiwang in a nutshell.
Explosiveness is Adiwang's calling card. The Filipino warrior can go from zero to 60 in a split second.
His opponents barely have time to assess the situation as Adiwang goes from relaxed to absolute murder mode at the drop of a hat. The dynamic fighter can also keep that dizzying pace for long durations in the fight without getting tired.
Adiwang is just a cyclone inside the cage and can unleash his attacks with a perfect combination of power, explosiveness and speed like no other.
Watch his best finishes in this video:
#2. ONE Championship Muay Thai legend Lerdsila Chumpairtour
If a fighter can react and counter your movement before you even start doing it, that fighter, in all intents and purposes, is the faster fighter. He is not physically faster than you, he just moves before you do.
Such is the case for most fighters who face Muay Thai legend Lerdsila Chumpairtour.
In a sport that allows eight different weapons to hit your opponent, the Muay Thai icon managed to win 100 straight matches with barely a scratch on him. Lerdsila's matrix-like vision, reflexes, fight IQ and counter-striking ability earned him the monicker 'Mayweather of Muay Thai'.
We mentioned the idea of a "tell" in combat sports earlier and Lerdsila is arguably the best at fishing out his opponent's tell. Just like Mayweather, the elusive Thai is two to three steps ahead of his opponents and can predict what they will do even before they think of doing it.
'The Eel', as his teammates would call him, isn't necessarily gifted with raw athleticism or speed. He just has a remarkable vision and ultra-instinct to see what comes at him and react just in time.
Watch this detailed analysis by YouTube user Lawrence Kenshin of Lerdsila's uncanny speed and reflexes in the ring:
#1. ONE Championship flyweight and MMA legend Demetrious Johnson
If there is one fighter who can put together all the attributes mentioned in this list to make him one of the fastest fighters alive today, it's Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson.
You talk about explosiveness, handspeed, footwork, reflexes, technique and ring vision, the 11-time defending UFC champion has it in spades.
'Mighty Mouse' is not just one of the fastest fighters in ONE Championship, he is one of the fastest fighters in MMA, ever. Johnson's athleticism allows him to dart in and out of range to either score sneaky double-leg takedowns or land blinding combinations inside. He then uses his feet to quickly glide out reach after every exchange.
Johnson also has an uncanny vision of seeing counter-strike openings whilst in the middle of chaos. Everything seemingly moves in slow-motion in DJ's eyes. When it comes to the ground, Johnson is extremely explosive and runs at a pace that is almost impossible to control.
Simply put, not a lot of fighters can deal with Johnson's otherworldly speed in all facets of fighting. That's why he's at the top of our list.
Watch this highlight video by YouTube user Fighters Promo to marvel at DJ's speed inside the cage: