Major prospects are always being established in ONE Championship’s ranks, and these future contenders come in all weight classes, and sports under the promotion’s umbrella. Let’s take a look at eight prospects you should know if you have an eye on future title challengers.
After suffering the second loss of his professional career in January 2019 at ONE: HERO’S ASCENT against Reinier de Ridder, Fan bounced back in a major way. In June in Shanghai at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST, Fan made easy work of sturdy Egyptian veteran Sherif Mohamed. Fan scored a second-round TKO finish to run his record to an impressive 12-2 overall and 1-1 with ONE Championship. At some point, he’d love to ascend to a point where he can challenge current champion Aung La N Sang for his title.
Through 11 professional bouts, de Ridder is undefeated. The 28-year-old from the Netherlands didn’t just turn back Fan’s attempt to hand him his first defeat, most recently, de Ridder destroyed Gilberto Galvao in Shanghai. At this point, de Ridder is on the cusp of shaking the prospect label. He may very well be the next in line to challenge Aung La. He may need one more win, but he looks to be one of the most serious threats to the Burmese Python’s crown.
Juniku already had her first shot at a world title in her debut match at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST. The young striker fell short as she lost a unanimous decision to ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Champion Stamp Fairtex. However, Juniku is still only 18 years old. Her best days as a competitor are still ahead. With some small adjustments and the continued physical maturation, Juniku could find herself in a position to again challenge for the title. We haven’t seen the last of Juniku with ONE Championship.
The Predator hasn’t competed since May 2018 at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS. Atlangeriev lost that bout to former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard Folayang. The loss was the only one of Atlangeriev’s career. Before the loss, he was on an 11-bout win streak with finishes in all but one of his bouts. Assuming he comes back to the promotion to compete, there is every reason to believe he can hop into the title picture in the lightweight division. Losing a decision to a competitor of Folayang’s pedigree is nothing to be ashamed of in the long run.
If there were ever a competitor close to leaving the prospect level, it’s 24-year-old Dagestani Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev. He has already powered his way into the final of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix with two decisive KO wins over Ev Ting and Amir Khan. He is set to face the winner of the Eduard Folayang – Eddie Alvarez semifinal matchup at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES in Manila.
Arslanaliev’s only loss as a pro came by way of disqualification for an illegal strike to a downed opponent. He is one of the scariest lightweight competitors in the sport, and should he win the Grand Prix, he might actually be favored to dethrone the newly crowned Christian Lee in a title bout.
Not a lot of prospects have emerged from the Republic of Moldova, but Iurie Lapicus might be one of the brightest young stars on the ONE Championship roster. He’s had just one bout with the organization, but he made a strong statement by scoring a third-round submission win over veteran Shannon Wiratchai in May at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON. He’s currently 13-0 and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
For now, Phoe Thaw is the most famous mixed martial artist from Myanmar not named Aung La N Sang. He has put together an 8-1 record as a professional in mixed martial arts, but the 34-year-old has had a slew of lethwei bouts in his home country. He’s known for his striking, and he reminded everyone of that in his last win at ONE: LEGENDARY QUEST in Shanghai against Victorio Senduk.
Thaw scored the explosive KO win in the first round as he continues to hone his overall skills.
Of all the Americans on the ONE Championship roster, aside from Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, Tonon has the most championship potential. The 27-year-old is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world. He has ridden that base skill to a 5-0 record in mixed martial arts, and he looks better with every performance in the ONE Circle.
In his most recent bout, Tonon scored a highlight-reel submission win over Yoshiki Nakahara at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON in May. Tonon believes he is almost ready to challenge for the ONE Featherweight World Title. Based on his increasingly dominant performances, it is hard to disagree with him.