ONE: Enter the Dragon produced some of the craziest upsets in the promotion’s history. Numerous fighters defied the odds to win matches everyone expected them to lose, including Christian Lee, who stopped Shinya Aoki on Friday to win the ONE Championship lightweight title.
Lee was making his lightweight debut against the most dominant fighter in the division and the first round was all Aoki. He secured a body lock, got the fight down and then transitioned from half guard to mount before the 20-year-old popped back up.
It proved to be no more than a temporary respite for Lee, who was taken down again almost instantaneously, and this time Aoki went to work with elbows from mount. The challenger looked to bridge out, but found himself fending off an armbar attempt at the end of an extremely lop-sided round.
At the start of the second stanza, Aoki was able to grab another body lock, but this time Lee brushed off his submission attempt. It proved to be the turning point of the fight, as Aoki elected to strike with the younger man, who connected with a right hand followed by a left hook.
Both blows found their mark and sent Aoki stumbling toward the corner. Lee immediately swarmed all over him, but referee Olivier Coste could see that the champion was not going to recover and stepped in to save him from further punishment.
The finish came at the 0:51 mark and means Lee, not Aoki, will face the winner of the ongoing Lightweight Grand Prix. His record improves to 12-3, while the two-time champion drops to 43-9-0-1.
On a night of massive upsets, the headline news was arguably Sage Northcutt (11-3) getting knocked out 29 seconds into his ONE Championship debut. The American was under the impression he could stand and strike with Muay Thai veteran Cosmo Alexandre (8-1).
The Brazilian soon set him straight on that point. The contest had barely got going when a right hand from Alexandre connected clean with the chin of the former UFC poster boy, who face planted into the ONE Championship canvas.
The first semifinal of the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix was one bout which failed to produce an upset. Local boy Amir Khan (11-6) was stopped by Saygid Arslanaliev (8-1) early in the opening round as the Dagestani booked his spot in the final which will take place in Tokyo this October.
ONE: Enter the Dragon (Singapore, May 17, 2019)
Christian Lee def. Shinya Aoki via TKO (Punches) at 0:51 of R2 (Wins Lightweight Title)
Regian Eersel def. Nieky Holzken via Decision (Unanimous) (Wins Lightweight Kickboxing Title)
Petchmorrakot Petchyindee def. Giorgio Petrosyan via Decision (Split) (Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Quarter Final)
Samy Sana def. Yodsaenklai Fairtex via Decision (Unanimous) (Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Quarter Final)
Cosmo Alexandre def. Sage Northcutt via KO (Punch) at 0:29 of R1
Saygid Arslanaliev def. Amir Khan (Lightweight Grand Prix Semi Final)
Geje Eustaquio def. Kim Kyu Sung via Decision (Unanimous)
Miao Li Tao def. Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke via KO (Punch) at 4:00 of R1
Jo Nattawut def. Sasha Moisa via TKO (Punches) at 1:25 of R3 (Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Quarter Final)
Yoshitaka Naito def. Alex Silva via Decision (Unanimous)
Garry Tonon def. Yoshiki Nakahara via Submission (Heel Hook) at 0:54 of R1
Dzhabar Askerov def. Enriko Kehl (Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Quarter Final)
Mei Yamaguchi def. Laura Balin via Submission (Armbar) at 3:45 of R1
Iuri Lapicus def. Shannon Wiratchai via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:20 of R3
Daniel Dawson def. Brown Pinas via Decision (Split) at 3:00 of R3 (Featherweight Kickboxing Grand Prix Alternate Bout)
Rahul Raju def. Richard Corminal via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:43 of R1