ONE Championship's 5 most shocking moments of 2021

ONE Championship atomweight and Muay Thai phenom Stamp Fairtex shocked everyone when she submitted a gifted grappler in Ritu Phogat in December of 2021. (Image courtesy of ONE Championship)
ONE Championship atomweight and Muay Thai phenom Stamp Fairtex shocked everyone when she submitted a gifted grappler in Ritu Phogat in December of 2021. (Image courtesy of ONE Championship)

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, ONE Championship has had an amazing 2021. Over 30 events and hundreds of fights have passed and it's time once again to reflect on the 12 months behind us.

If anything, 2021 proved that the fight game is a wildly different athletic endeavor from other sports. One cannot simply look at stats and numbers and come to a viable conclusion on who will win and by how much.

Many things can make the game so unpredictable and the year has been filled with contests that blind-sided most, if not all, expectations.

Just take a look at the once-kickboxing champion Stamp Fairtex submitting a known grappler Ritu Phogat:

ONE Championship has had a few shocking moments this year that will forever be etched into the annals of history. From jaw-dropping knockouts to dominant underdog wins, here are a few shocking ONE Championship moments from 2021.

#5. Ok Rae Yoon dominates Eddie Alvarez - ONE Championship on TNT 4

The Korean world domination continues through the explosive hands of ONE Championship's lightweight king Ok Rae Yoon. Arguably having the best freshman year in ONE Championship, Ok won the belt just five months after his first fight in the promotion.

After putting on a clinic in his debut against former featherweight champion Marat 'Cobra' Gafurov, Ok shocked everyone in his second outing. The Korean striker took his next bout less than a month removed from his first fight.

To make matters more difficult, Ok also agreed to face MMA legend and former UFC lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez. The Korean champion has balls of steel.

Come fight night, Ok was nowhere near being perceived as the betting favorite. Nonetheless, the Korean slugger dominated all three rounds using fluid movement and crisp striking.

Ok showed the former UFC great that he had no business being in the cage with him. Ok utilized his reach advantage to nullify Alvarez's attack, while peppering him with solid shots from the outside. He even knocked Alvarez down in the first round and almost ended the fight there.

After his momentous win over 'The Underground King', Ok received a title shot and later faced champion Christian Lee in September. The Korean won again, capping off his year with ONE Championship gold around his waist.

Watch the full fight here:


#4. Reinier de Ridder becomes a double champ on six days' notice - ONE Championship on TNT 4

In 2021, ONE Championship double champ Reinier 'The Dutch Knight' de Ridder achieved something more incredible than winning a second belt. He won it on six days' notice.

'The Dutch Knight' first shocked the world by submitting dominant former double champ 'The Burmese Python' Aung La Nsang inside one round.

Aung La was the face of ONE Championship, breaking through the mainstream by putting his home country of Myanmar on the map. The Burmese champion was 11-1 in his last 12 bouts before getting decimated by de Ridder.

After taking Aung La's middleweight belt, de Ridder snatched the former double champ's light heavyweight title in a fight he took on six days' notice. After Aung La's original foe Vitaly Bigdash tested positive for COVID-19, de Ridder stepped in.

With people still seeing his initial win as a fluke, de Ridder silenced all critics with a five-round dismantling of the heralded double champ. His performance was nothing short of incredible. He manhandled Aung La like he didn't belong in the cage with him.

Watch the full fight here:


#3. Stamp Fairtex submits a grappling specialist - ONE Championship: Winter Warriors 2

Former ONE Championship atomweight kickboxing and Muay Thai champion Stamp Fairtex has truly come a long way since transitioning to MMA in 2018.

The Muay Thai phenom had one of the best years in ONE Championship as she plowed her way through all her outings in 2021. En route to winning ONE Championship's atomweight Grand Prix tournament, Stamp surprised everyone with each performance.

Stamp avenged her only career loss to ground specialist Alyona Rassohyna in the quarter-finals, then out-classed Julie Mezabarba in the semi-finals. Leading up to the finals against wrestling prodigy Ritu Phogat, Stamp had already proven that her ground game is increasingly becoming legit.

Ritu Phogat, however, was deemed levels above the grapplers Stamp fought in the past. Fighters and pundits were predicting that if Stamp was to beat Phogat, she'd have to defend the takedowns and keep the fight on the feet.

Not only would anyone have predicted that Stamp would repel the wrestling attack, no one saw her countering Phogat's legendary top game with submissions off her back.

In the second round, the kickboxing superstar surprisingly locked in a deep triangle choke off her back. Phogat fought the choke valiantly but just like a seasoned submission specialist, Stamp expertly transitioned the hold to an armbar.

After the shocking win, Stamp is one step away from making history by facing ONE's atomweight champ Angela Lee for the belt. If Stamp wins that bout, she will shock the world yet again by becoming ONE's first ever tri-sport champion.

Watch the full fight here:


#2. Superbon Banchamek takes out the legendary Giorgio Petrosyan - ONE Championship: First Strike

Superbon Banchamek delivered perhaps the most violent head-kick knockout in ONE Championship history. The relatively unknown Superbon shocked the kickboxing world by sending the legendary Giorgio 'The Doctor' Petrosyan to the negative zone.

Petrosyan, known as one of the greatest kickboxers of all time, debuted in ONE Championship with an air of invicibility upon him. Having only lost twice in over 100 fights before facing Superbon, Petrosyan was no doubt favored to win.

With the crowd firmly believing that 'The Doctor' would steamroll the Thai fighter as he always does, everyone's jaw dropped when the unthinkable happened.

Superbon was never fazed by Petrosyan's aggressiveness and trademark clinical precision. The Banchamek fighter answered all of Petroyan's attacks with his own; kick for kick and punch for punch.

In the second round, Superbon made history by connecting with a head kick that immediately separated Petrosyan from his senses. The Armenian-Italian legend fell lifeless to the floor like his soul left his body.

Pulling off such a devastating knockout win over a legend of the sport is a once in a lifetime achievement.

Watch the full fight here:


#1. Adriano Moraes does the unthinkable -ONE Championship on TNT 1

What ONE flyweight world champion Adriano Moraes achieved in less than two rounds will forever be discussed in MMA lore. Without a doubt, this one's the most shocking moment in ONE Championship this year.

'Mikinho' effectively shook the foundations of the sport when he knocked out Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson in a fight that very few saw him winning. Johnson, widely recognized as one of the greatest MMA fighters ever, has a resume that's the stuff of legend.

Johnson's UFC record and achievements might never be broken or surpassed. Imagine the collective shock of the entire sport when Moraes, mostly known for his grappling, knocked out the UFC great with strikes.

Moraes surprisingly matched Johnson's pace on the feet. He also thwarted all the grappling entries and, in the midst of calculated chaos, landed a short right uppercut. The punch immediately sent Johnson to the canvas and Moraes ended his night with a devastating knee on the ground.

It was like time stopped and we were transported to another dimension. For a moment, we couldn't believe our eyes. Demetrious Johnson. Out. Cold.

Watch the full fight here:


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Edited by Harvey Leonard