ONE Championship: Best Promotional Debuts Of 2018

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ONE Championship saw an influx of talent across every discipline under the promotion’s umbrella. It was tough nailing down the most impacting first impressions for the ONE audience, but the following six made an immediate splash with the largest martial arts organization in the world.

Jihin Radzuan

Don’t let the innocent and youthful face fool you; The Shadow Cat is a warrior.

The 20-year-old Malaysian prospect hit the ground running in 2018 with ONE. She competed three times for the promotion, with the first bout taking place in March at ONE: VISIONS OF VICTORY against Puja Tomar. Radzuan used her suffocating top game and overall grappling prowess to secure a second-round submission win via triangle choke.

Radzuan would go on to win two more times to finish the year and she has positioned herself to be a title contender in the women’s atomweight division in 2019. That’s not a bad list of accomplishments for someone yet to reach the age of 21.

Petchdam Kaiyanghadao

Looking for the world’s next great Muay Thai prodigy? Look no further than Petchdam. Perhaps no martial artist in the organization made a more destructive impact upon arrival. In two bouts with ONE in 2018, Petchdam strung together two of the most memorable KO wins of the year.

Petchdam’s flamboyance and look are notable, but perhaps most significant is the power in his left leg. The 20-year-old Muay Thai kickboxer’s leg seems to double as a sledgehammer. In July, Petchdam made his promotional debut at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER in Kuala Lumpur against Australia’s Josh “Timebomb” Tonna.

Unfortunately for the warrior from down under, it was he who would be the victim of a detonation. Petchdam’s kick/knee to the midsection and chin of the Aussie resulted in an instant KO and one of the most electrifying stoppages of 2018.

Giorgio Petrosyan

If you’re familiar with kickboxing, then you know The Doctor. Petrosyan is widely considered one of, if not the best kickboxer of all time. His arrival to ONE’s Super Series resulted in a jolt of energy as the division added a true legend.

Despite having more than 100 professional kickboxing matches under his belt, Petrosyan is just 33 years old. He made his debut in April at ONE: HEROES OF HONOR with a hard-fought victory over ‘Smokin’ Jo Nattawut. The win was impressive because it came against a tough and determined competitor who wasn’t intimidated by Petrosyan’s status or accomplishments.

For ONE, this was just the beginning with Petrosyan. After taking time to win Bellator’s inaugural Kickboxing Lightweight Championship, Petrosyan would return to ONE to score a victory over Sorgraw Petchyindee to round out a successful year.

Even more should be in store for Petrosyan and ONE in 2019.

Nieky Holzken

Speaking of kickboxing legends, ONE welcomed a second household name to the fold in Holzken. The veteran of boxing and kickboxing had just one bout with ONE in 2018, but he made sure to leave an impression in his lone appearance.

In November at ONE: WARRIOR’S DREAM, Holzken rematched Cosmo Alexandre. In their first bout which took place back in 2010, Holzken won but Alexandre went the distance. This time, Holzken seemed determined to end things early. Holzken peppered Alexandre with shots throughout the opening frame. In the second round, Holzken connected with the final salvo. The combination was punctuated with a fiery uppercut.

The punch finished the Brazilian and gave Holzken his first stoppage win in three years. You can bet he has plans for more.

Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex

When it comes to kickboxing legends, ONE seems to have them in spades. ONE inked a deal with the Boxing Computer that saw the veteran Thai warrior debut in May at ONE: UNSTOPPABLE DREAMS against Chris Ngimbi. The latter offered respectable resistance to Yodsanklai, but in the end, the surgical and experienced legend secured his first win with the promotion.

His year was far from done. Hungry for a finish to further announce his presence, Yodsanklai faced the talented and accomplished Luis Regis. It didn’t take long for Yodsanklai to remind everyone watching that his power is formidable. Like Holzken, the uppercut was Yodsanklai’s weapon of choice. He eradicated Regis with a shot that left his opponent out and up against the cage.

With a 2-0 start with ONE, there is talk that a Yodsanklai vs. Petrosyan bout could be in the works for 2019. If it comes to fruition, it just might be one of the year’s most anticipated matches.

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

Boxing hadn’t been a part of ONE Championship’s lineup before 2018, but the sport was introduced to the promotion’s fans in a big way with the signing of WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

In October, the pound-for-pound contender took down a well-prepared but overmatched Iran Diaz via unanimous decision at ONE: KINGDOM OF HEROES. In the bout, Srisaket displayed the toughness, punching accuracy and relentlessness that guided him to two victories over Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and another against Juan Francisco Estrada.

With the win over Diaz, Srisaket didn’t just give himself a great start with ONE, he also laid the groundwork for more boxing bouts with the promotion.