Undefeated fighters. People love watching them fight and ONE Championship has quite a few. They say that you cannot call yourself a complete fighter if you haven't lost a fight yet. The idea of overcoming the emotional setbacks of a loss brings out the true mettle and character of a fighter.
There is, however, something about fighters who have never tasted defeat that naturally garners more attention than most. Perhaps it's either through sheer admiration or fervent curiosity to finally see them fall that creates the hype.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. created millions of dollars banking on the idea that no one could beat him. With that in mind, millions watched to see him lose.
In a highly volatile sport like MMA, however, having a clean resume is almost impossible. A fight can be lost in any given way. Athletes can be manhandled in grappling or get caught by strikes ranging from punches, elbows, knees, and kicks.
With a ruleset that allows for pretty much everything except for a few restrictions, it is almost inevitable that fighters lose at some point in their careers.
So far, only former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov can say that he left the sport with his '0' firmly intact. His domination of his division cannot be overstated as his grasp of his fighting style is near-flawless.
Today we list down the current undefeated fighters on ONE Championship's roster. We study their styles and see whether or not they will get to hang up their gloves with their resumes still squeaky clean.
#5. Murad Ramazanov - ONE Championship welterweight (11-0)
Fresh off his dominant outing against former champion Zebaztian 'The Bandit' Kadestam at ONE Championship: Winter Warriors II, undefeated welterweight Murad Ramazanov has the makings of a future champion.
Though his striking skills are still intermediate at best, Murad shines the most with his wrestling. True to his Dagestani roots, the undefeated grappler's chain wrestling is second to none.
Just like the aforementioned Khabib, Ramazanov's takedown attacks do not stop. He can start with a lazy single, then transition to a high crotch, then end it with a power double. His opponents rarely have time to breathe as Ramazanov immediately moves to another takedown after the last one gets defended.
Once he takes them down, Ramazanov employs a heavy top game that's difficult to shake off or defend. Ramazanov's suffocating style of grappling can sap the energy and will of any fighter. Expect him to keep this style en route to the top of his ONE Championship division as no one's been able to solve his puzzle so far.
#4. Bokang Masunyane - ONE Championship strawweight (8-0)
Weighing in at 125 pounds and standing at 5'1", ONE Championship's compact dynamo Bokang 'Little Giant' Masunyane is explosiveness personified.
Granted, there are a lot of explosive fighters on ONE Championship's strawweight roster. That includes Lito 'Thunder Kid' Adiwang and the champion Joshua 'The Passion' Pacio. None, however, match Masunyane's explosiveness in grappling.
With wrestling as his foundational style, 'Little Giant' runs through his opponents like a freight train at full speed. He manages to switch from striking to clinch battles to massive takedowns in the blink of an eye.
The stocky South African's dizzying grappling attacks make for exciting bouts but also allows him openings to exemplify his powerful strikes. His unforgettable head-kick knockout of Rene Catalan coming off a clinch is the perfect example of this.
It would be interesting to see him fight a gritty wrestler like Jarred 'The Monkey God' Brooks. We'd like to see if Masunyane can keep his dynamic style against a powerful and technical grappler. Brooks decimated a similarly explosive fighter in Lito Adiwang.
If Masunyane can overcome 'The Monkey God', he might be next in line for a title shot.
#3. Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida - ONE Championship heavyweight (2-0)
Don't let his measley 2-0 MMA record fool you. Marcus 'Buchecha' Almeida has over 120 wins and 13 world championships in competitive jiu-jitsu. He earned the iconic recognition of being called by a singular name, 'Buchecha', due to his legendary status.
What makes 'Buchecha' special amongst all the other world champion grapplers venturing into MMA is how he's approached the game so far.
'Buchecha' showed tremendous respect towards all aspects of MMA. To study the nuances of the sport, he aligned himself with two of the top MMA teams in the world in American Kickboxing Academy and American Top Team.
By choosing to fight at ONE Championship, the Brazilian grappling legend also found the best organization to transition to MMA with. Jiu-jitsu competitions rarely encourage weight cutting due to the fact that most weigh-ins happen on the same day (if not minutes before) the fights happen.
Cutting water weight would be detrimental to fighters' performance, if not dangerous to their health. Thankfully, ONE Championship doesn't allow weight cutting and so 'Buchecha' chose the heavyweight division so he could properly transition to the sport.
Without having to worry about dehydrating himself, the jiu-jitsu ace can focus on training better and exploring his full MMA arsenal in the cage. Expect him to grapple and smash his way through the competition en route to a title shot in the near future.
#2. Garry Tonon - ONE Championship featherweight (6-0)
If Buchecha shows the potential for a successful transition from jiu-jitsu to MMA, ONE Championship featherweight Garry 'The Lion Killer' Tonon has nearly perfected it.
The only thing missing to fully realize Tonon's legendary move from submission grappling to MMA is a world championship. One that he might get to achieve next year.
Though already a legend in jiu-hitsu, just like 'Buchecha, Tonon never rested on his laurels. He learned from the mistakes of grappling world champions who relied too much on jiu-jitsu but were later defeated. Tonon continually explored other aspects of MMA and approached them with curiosity and respect.
The American has figured out a way to incorporate his grappling genius without being too one-sided, style-wise. Understanding that no one would dare fight him on the ground, Tonon found the freedom to expand and explore his options on the feet.
Because of this, Tonon's striking arsenal has evolved from pesky to utter dangerous. He has earned the respect of his peers in the striking department.
With a complete MMA skillset in his arsenal, expect Tonon to continually grow and improve as he ventures to the top of his division.
#1. Reinier de Ridder - ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight champion (14-0)
Without a doubt, the most high-profile undefeated fighter in ONE Championship is none other than its only double champ, Reinier 'The Dutch Knight' de Ridder. The European fighter is not just after greatness, he's after a spot in history.
'The Dutch Knight' has been undefeated in his career thus far and is aiming to become the first triple-division champion in MMA.
After winning the middleweight belt in dominant fashion and capturing the light heavyweight strap on just six days' notice, de Ridder's undefeated status has become the stuff of legends.
'The Dutch Knight' has a scrappy, aggressive grappling style but also manages to suffocate his opponents with a pressuring stand-up game. He is incredibly strong and can keep the intensity to the latter rounds.
Reinier de Ridder loves to take the fight into deep waters as he decimates his opponents like an octopus killing its prey.