Last weekend saw ONE Championship’s Big Bang take place at the Singapore Indoor stadium for one night of power-packed action, as renowned martial arts superstars showcased their grit and skill as they faced their opponents in the cage.
Missed the fights? You can relive The event was also live-streamed on ONE Championship’s YouTube page, and on the ONE Super App.
Highlights of the night
Headlining the event was three-time kickboxing World Champion Marat Grigorian, who made his ONE Championship debut against Russian kickboxer Ivan Kondratev. Although the fight began with Kondratev striking first, and facing little to no resistance for the first minute, Grigorian pushed through to deliver wild punches at Kondratev in the last minute.
Then the tide turned for Grigorian in the second round, where he changed his tactics and began working uppercuts at Kondratev’s body. He eventually managed to push the Russian into the Circle Wall, where he delivered a debilitating liver shot which earned him his victory.
Another highlight of the night was Bokang Masunyane’s astounding victory over Rene Catalan, where he delivered a 37-second head kick knockout to the No. 3-ranked strawweight contender. His win is the second-fastest victory in strawweight history, behind Adrian Mattheis’ 22-second KO of Rustam Hutajulu in 2016.
The co-headline event saw a fierce fight between No. 3-ranked Koyomi Matsushima taking on the No. 5 contender, grappling superstar Garry Tonon. The American, a former Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi World Champion, overwhelmed Matsushima with a legion of submission attacks, leveraging his grappling expertise.
Matsushima, on the other hand, was left with little option but to defend himself against the submission attempts by the American. After three five-minute rounds, the judges unanimously declared Garry Tonon as the winner of the featherweight contest.
The female fighters also put up an impressive performance in the atomweight division. Indian wrestler-turned-MMA fighter Ritu Phogat won her fourth consecutive championship title against Philippines’ Jomary Torres in the opening bout via a technical knockout, in less than four minutes into the first round.
Although Torres had managed to stun the ex-wrestler with straight punches early into the fight, she was no match for Phogat’s grappling prowess. Once Phogat was able to shoot for a takedown, she swiftly moved into a mounted crucifix and began raining punches on Torres.
The second atomweight bout of the night between Vietnamese-American Bi Nguyen and Malaysian Jihin Radzuan was an extremely close match, with both athletes showing great tenacity as they took turns clinching each other and attacking with their elbows in the first two rounds.
Both Jihin and Ngyuen came in strong with the strikes in the third round, with Nguyen aiming at Jihin’s head, and Jihin retaliating with counter left hooks and some hard push kicks into Ngyuen’s face. Although Ngyuen managed to finish the match strong with a late takedown and multiple punches, the judges still unanimously scored in favour of the Malaysian.
Athletes to watch: Ritu Phogat and Garry Tonon
During her post-fight interview, Phogat talked about the sacrifices she had to make that led to her stellar performance that night. She revealed that she had missed her sister’s wedding on 26 November as she was preparing for her fight against Torres.
Although her training had to come to a halt during the lockdown in Singapore, she maintained a strict level of discipline in keeping herself fit. “During lockdown, I kept myself fit at home. I made a schedule and stuck to it. As soon as gyms were open, I started regular practice. I was not supposed to grapple in the gym, but it was nice to train with the team rather than alone at home. It has helped me,” she said.
On her strategy for this match, she said that she played to her strength in wrestling, and kept her opponent on her toes to “try and unsettle her”.
Phogat now has eyes on the Grand Prix, where the winner will go against current ONE Championship atomweight title holder Angela Lee, who is currently expecting her first child. “If I am in the grand prix, I will play in it like any other bout,” she said.
Despite his broken nose, featherweight winner Garry Tonon was in high spirits as he revelled in his victory over Matsushima. “I felt like I had a pretty dominant performance all three rounds… I’m happy that I got back in there, and man it was exciting; I’m elated right now, I’m the happiest I’ve been all week that’s for sure.”
During the interview, Tonon also praised Matsushima’s performance, saying that his opponent had a very “interesting style”, as he had “an ability to wrestle” and strike well. “He did a good job of countering some of the grappling exchanges and getting away from some leg locks… it was easily my toughest test yet… so yeah, good stuff”.
That’s not all that Tonon has up his sleeve for now. He has set his sights in winning a belt in the featherweight and lightweight categories. “[At] the bare minimum I want one title by the end of this year; I think I can make that happen pretty easily but if I can find a way to make two happen that would be a beautiful thing.”
More to come from ONE Championship
For those who can’t get enough of ONE Championship, fret not. ONE: Big Bang II will premier this Friday, 11 December on ONE Championship’s YouTube at 8.30 p.m., with former ONE flyweight Muay Thau World Champion Johnathan Haggerty defending his No. 3 ranking against Japanese superstar Taiki Naito, and kickboxing legend Nieky Holzken battling to keep his No. 1 contender spot against Elliot Compton.
ONE: Collision Course will also be happening live at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 18 December, where legendary Nong-O Gaiyanghadao will be defending the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Championship against ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai Tournament Champion Rodlek PK. Saenchai Muaythaigym, while Lowen Tynanes explodes back into action against former ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat Gafurov.
250 tickets are available for purchase here.