What an event ONE 160 turned out to be. One of ONE Championship's biggest events of the year delivered an unforgettable card filled with explosive bouts from start to finish. All but two fights ended before the final bell.
The main event of ONE 160 saw one of the most one-sided beatdowns ever witnessed in ONE Championship history. 'The Warrior' Christian Lee reclaimed his throne with absolute domination over rival Ok Rae Yoon. After his first fight with Ok last year, where he lost the belt in controversial fashion, Lee erased all doubt by finishing the South Korean in the second round.
'The Warrior' took the center of the circle right away and aggressively attacked Ok. No feel-out process was needed as both fighters exchanged violent combinations early on. As the round progressed, Lee increasingly overwhelmed Ok with his swarming strikes, eventually knocking him down twice before the opening salvo ended.
After barely making it out of the first round, Ok was in survival mode come round two. Lee finished the night by sending Ok to the canvas via a devastating overhand right. He then followed it up with knees to the ground to reclaim the ONE lightweight world championship. 'The Warrior' also won a sweet $50K performance bonus for his efforts.
Speaking to Mitch Chilson in his post-fight interview, Lee spoke about the confidence he showed in pushing forward and constantly hunting for the KO:
"The confidence comes from all the hard work. There's no way to fake it in this game. I said it in the last fight. I thought I won it, at 50%. This is my performance at 100%. Ok Rae Yoon is without a doubt one of the top lightweight fighters in the world. So respect to him. But I knew this is how it's gonna go down tonight. I knew that the training and hard work that I put in was going to be enough to get it done."
Further talking about how the finish came about, the new ONE lightweight king explained:
"The biggest mistake I made in the previous fight is when I get into the circle, I just want to fight. And so I calmed it down a little bit. We laid out a game plan, I stuck to it, I just tried my best to take my shots. Take what was there, not rush anything. And the finish happened on its own."
Tang Kai becomes China's first male MMA world champion in the co-main event of ONE 160
The co-main event of ONE 160 saw perhaps the most competitive and exciting bout of the night. Chinese knockout artist Tang Kai made history by becoming the first male MMA world champion to hail from China.
Tang did so by surprising everyone, including his opponent Thanh Le, with a methodical game plan to snatch the ONE featherweight world title via unanimous decision. The Chinese dynamo is known for his aggressive, forward-moving style. At ONE 160, however, he outclassed the often slick Le by beating him at his own game.
Leg kicks made a huge difference in the co-main event of ONE 160. The bout opened with Le using his fast feet to dance around and pick apart Tang. Disrupting Le's footwork-heavy movement, however, were Tang's chopping leg kicks. He threw them with absolute impunity and almost exclusively in the first round. Tang even knocked Le down with a solid leg kick at one point.
Come round two, Le started switching stances to southpaw, clearly feeling the effects of Tang's leg attacks from the previous round. Tang kept going back to the leg kicks while Le started becoming more desperate, rushing in with his chin up in the air. Tang kept up his methodical dismantling of Le while gliding out of the way of counter shots.
In round four, Tang's elusive game plan paid huge dividends as he caught Le rushing in and sent him to the canvas with a solid check hook. The rest of the fight was quite the same as the earlier exchanges. Tang beat Le to the punch as the champion withered more as the rounds went by.
In the end, Tang soundly impressed all the judges to win the bout via unanimous decision to become the new ONE featherweight world champion.
Results and recap for the rest of ONE 160
The rest of the bouts for ONE 160 were as explosive as the top of the card. Starting the event was India's Kantharaj Agasa absolutely flatlining Brazil's Thales Nakassu. The clear power difference between the two was highly apparent as Agasa bullied Nakassu until he got the KO midway into the first round.
In the sole submission grappling bout of ONE 160, Norwegian jiu-jitsu sensation Tommy Langaker beat former multi-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Renato Canuto via decision. Langaker constantly hunted for submissions for the majority of the bout, earning him a $50k performance bonus from ONE.
Meanwhile, Croatian heavyweight Martin Batur provided the most exciting comeback effort of ONE 160 by stopping heavyweight slugger Paul Elliot after getting hurt early in the fight. Fellow Croatian and new ONE signee Roberto Soldic joined him in the circle to celebrate afterwards.
Another memorable stoppage was courtesy of Keanu Subba, finishing ONE veteran Amir Khan after hurting him with a nifty counterpunch in the pocket.
Lastly, in perhaps the best knockout of ONE 160, former ONE bantamweight Muay Thai world title contender Saemapetch Fairtex successfully avenged his loss to Rittewada Petchyindee. After being virtually neck-and-neck with Rittewada in the first round, Saemapetch did well on his promise to finish the fight in the second.
After having some problems dealing with the length and reach difference, Saemapetch found his distance and delivered a picture-perfect jab-overhand combination that shut Rittewada's lights off instantly. The win earned the Fairtex fighter a sweet $50k bonus from ONE.
Here are the official results of ONE 160:
ONE 160: Ok vs. Lee II Official Results
- MMA - Lightweight: Christian Lee def. Ok Rae Yoon via TKO at 1:00 of R2
- MMA - Featherweight: Tang Kai def. Thanh Le via Unanimous Decision
- Muay Thai - Bantamweight: Saemapetch Fairtex def. Rittewada Petchyindee via Knockout at 1:35 of R2
- MMA - Featherweight: Keanu Subba def. Amir Khan via Knockout at 3:29 of R1
- MMA - Heavyweight: Martin Batur def. Paul Elliott via TKO at 3:38 of R1
- Submission Grappling - Lightweight: Tommy Langaker def. Renato Canuto via Decision
- MMA - Bantamweight: Kantharaj Agasa def. Thales Nakassu via TKO at 2:55 of R1