The world-class and talented athletes of ONE Championship pulled out all the stops in 2017, and the burgeoning martial arts scene in Asia has never been in a better position.
2017 saw a plethora of highlight-reel knockouts taking place within the ONE Championship cage, and to commemorate the most spectacular ones, here are the five best knockouts of the year in the organization.
#5) Anthony Engelen’s power right hook at ONE: QUEST FOR POWER
It has not been an easy run in ONE Championship for Dutch-Indonesian journeyman Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen as he has registered a handful of big wins as well as a couple of painful losses in five bouts under the organization’s banner.
However, his victory on the undercard of ONE: QUEST FOR POWER on 14 January showcased tremendous promise moving forward.
Engelen electrified his adopted home crowd of Jakarta, Indonesia with a masterful display of striking, defeating his opponent with one strong blow and bringing everyone up to their feet.
Just two minutes into the very first round against Malaysian martial arts veteran AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor, Engelen put together a stunning boxing combination, punctuated by an emphatic right hook that connected right on the jaw of his cage counterpart, who was out cold before he even hit the ground.
#4) Christian Lee’s spectacular slam at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD
Throughout his young professional career, featherweight standout Christian “The Warrior” Lee has been billed as the future of martial arts, showing great talent and unlimited potential.
The 19-year-old martial arts sensation took another step in fulfilling all of those on 9 December as he concluded a masterful performance against former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD in Bangkok, Thailand.
In perhaps his most impressive performance to date, Lee brought his best against a dangerous opponent in Boku as he employed the perfect strategy and completed a rapturous knockout triumph that undoubtedly signals his readiness to challenge the upper tier of talent in the promotion’s most stacked division.
Bringing the action right to Boku, Lee blasted the Japanese veteran with powerful strikes, takedowns and submission attempts.
Moreover, Lee unloaded his best offense on the former world champion, all while pushing him constantly back up against the cage.
Just past the three-minute mark, Lee quickly took Boku’s back and executed a textbook trip takedown with such incredible power that it knocked Japanese veteran out.
The impressive win over Boku was Lee’s seventh first-round stoppage victory and tied the promotional record for most finishes at eight.
#3) Zebaztian Kadestam’s comeback knockout win at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES
Going up against one of the most feared strikers in the division is not the most ideal scenario for a ONE Championship debutant, but Swede newcomer Zebaztian “The Bandit” Kadestam wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Receiving the opportunity to join ONE Championship and take on one of the biggest names in the division, Kadestam would put everything on the line.
It all worked out for Kadestam as he turned in one of the most exciting finishes in 2017 with a third-round knockout of Brazilian powerhouse Luis “Sapo” Santos at ONE: DYNASTY OF HEROES in Singapore on 26 May.
Accepting the challenge on short notice, Kadestam spent the first two rounds fending off a furious offense by Santos.
Unknown to the Brazilian, it was all a part of Kadestam’s plan as Swede was biding his time, waiting for the third round where Santos has been known to lose his steam.
It was precisely what happened to the Brazilian brute, giving Kadestam a great opening to capitalize with a series of hard knees that flattened Santos to complete a shocking comeback upset.
#2) Honorio Banario’s one-punch knockout at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY
Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario does not believe his best days are behind him as after losing five bouts in a row from 2013 to 2015, there is no quit in the 28-year-old Baguio City native to bring back the glimmer in his professional career.
Banario has since won four straight matches, including two spectacular finishes in his last two outings.
On 21 April at ONE: KINGS OF DESTINY, Banario showcased another epic performance, stopping ONE Championship debutant Jaroslav Jartim with a single left hook.
Countering a body kick with a punching combination, Honorio unleashed a left hook that landed square on Jartim’s jaw, turning the lights out immediately for his Czech opponent.
It was Banario’s first real knockout victory since he stopped compatriot Andrew Benibe at ONE: PRIDE OF A NATION in August 2012.
#1) Martin Nguyen’s history-making knockout at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD
Having just lifted the coveted ONE Featherweight World Championship from the previously-unbeaten Marat Gafurov via scintillating knockout just three months prior, Vietnamese-Australian dynamo Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen became an overnight sensation.
Nguyen catapulted to superstardom through a series of impressive highlight-reel finishes, culminating with his knockout of Gafurov.
With an unstoppable weapon in his vaunted overhand right, Nguyen emerged as a legitimate knockout artist who is capable of toppling anyone with a single shot.
Nguyen proved that yet again on 10 November as he entered hostile territory to challenge beloved Filipino martial arts superstar Eduard “Landslide” Folayang for the ONE Lightweight World Championship before a hometown crowd in Manila at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD.
Although Folayang knew that Nguyen’s best weapon was the overhand right, there was little that the Filipino hero could do to stop it as “The Situ-Asian” waited for just the right moment to counter his opponent.
As Folayang telegraphed his patented spinning back kick, Nguyen uncorked his famed overhand grenade to shock the world once again.
The jaw-dropping knockout of Folayang earned Nguyen the ONE Lightweight World Championship and wrote his name in history books as the first man to hold two world titles simultaneously in ONE Championship.