ONE Championship: Revolution Preview: Ten Years of ONE

Christian Lee raises his arm while holding a ONE Championship. Christian Lee will headline ONE Championship: Revolution. Photo Credit: ONE Championship

ONE Championship will present one of their strongest cards of the year when holding “Revolution” on September 24th at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The loaded main card includes some of the organization’s biggest names, former champions, top prospects and two MMA title fights.

The main card kicks off with a women’s 115-pound bout between Victoria Lee (younger sister of ONE Champions Angela and Christian, the latter of whom headlines this card) and Brazil’s Victória Souza, who will be making her ONE debut.

At just 17 years old and with the success of her two siblings always a part of any conversation regarding her potential, Lee (2-0) has submitted both opponents since making her pro debut in ONE earlier this year. While her stand-up game is still developing, once she gets her opponent down she’s shown an aptitude for using strikes to soften her opponents up in order to grab a submission.

Souza (5-0) will be entering the ONE cage for the first time, but also carries an undefeated record that includes four first-round finishes. Both of these women prefer to do their work on the ground, so it will be interesting to see how much time they spend standing and who is able to get the better of the inevitable grappling exchanges.

Things take a jump in size for the next fight, as Greco-Roman wrestling champion Amir Aliakbari (10-2) takes on undefeated Antoly Malykhin (9-0) at heavyweight.

Both fighters made their promotional debuts for ONE at the same event back in March but had very different results, as Aliakbari was knocked out by Kang Ji Won in under a round and Malykhin scored a ground and pound finish over Alexandre Machado. Aliakbari will look to bounce back from just the second loss of his career (both by knockout) while Malykhin will attempt to preserve his unbeaten pro record. This is another fight where the strengths and of the two competitors line-up quite closely.

Aliakbari’s wrestling experience forms the backbone of his MMA game, and his eight-career stoppage wins have come via his vicious ground and pound after getting opponents to the canvas. Malykhin has also recorded some impressive ground-and-pound finishes, but he also has the added threat of submissions (particularly kimuras from side control) once the fight hits the mat.

Next up is a 155-pound fight between former two-division ONE champion Martin Nguyen (13-4) and South Korean Kim Jae Woong (11-4) in what could turn out to be the most action-packed fight on the card.

Nguyen will be fighting for the first time since losing his title to Thanh Le in October of last year, while Woong enters the fight after finishing Tetsuya Yamada and improving his ONE record to 2-1. Both of these men prefer to do their work on the feet, and it’s unlikely we’ll see this one hit the mat unless there’s a desperation takedown or to follow-up on a knockdown.

One detail that stands out about this matchup is Kim was repeatedly rocked by overhand rights in his second ONE fight against Koyomi Matsushima, and that same strike just happens to be one of Nguyen’s favorite weapons. “The Fighting God” is extremely tough and will be throwing back just as hard at Nguyen, but he could be in for a short night if he’s as open to that particular punch as he was against Matsushima. Nguyen was also starting to build momentum in the third round of his bout with Thanh Le before he threw a lazy jab and was countered and finished, so it’ll be interesting to see if that affects his approach to this fight at all.

The first of two MMA title fights on the card will complete the trilogy between current ONE 125-pound champion Joshua Pacio (19-3) and former champ Yosuke Saruta (21-9-3).

Saruta took the belt from Pacio in their first bout with an extremely close split decision, but Pacio was able to reclaim it in their immediate rematch with a highlight reel fpurth-round knockout. Since then, Pacio has defended his belt twice, first by submitting Rene Catalan and then with a split decision win over Alex Silva in early 2020. Saruta has also added two wins since he and Pacio last met; he stopped Daichi Kitakata with strikes in 2019 in his first fight after losing the belt, then won a decision over Yoshitaka Naito as part of Shooto Japan’s Road to ONE event last September.

Their first two bouts were largely dictated by who could keep the fight in their preferred area, with Saruta’s takedowns and top control being the difference in their first meeting, and Pacio’s striking handing him the victory in the second. Pacio will likely try to keep things standing so he can utilize his kicking game, while Saruta will look to put Pacio on his back and keep the Filipino champion from having the opportunity to recreate the finish he scored in their second fight.

Following Pacio vs. Saruta, there’s break in the MMA action for a 145 lbs. Muay Thai title fight between Capitan Petchyindee and Mehdi Zatout, but then the main event of the card sees Ok Rae Yoon (15-3) challenge defending champion Christian Lee (15-3) for the ONE 170-pound title.

Lee is currently riding a six-fight win streak that includes stopping Shinya Aoki to win the title, earning a unanimous decision (as a late replacement) over previously undefeated Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev, and scoring a first-round finish over Iuri Lapicus and Timofey Nastyukhin in the first two defenses of his 170-pound belt. Ok has won his last four bouts, and his ONE career got off to a quick start by earning unanimous decisions over former ONE champion Marut Gafarov and former UFC and Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez in back-to-back weeks in April.

The South Korean showed off excellent takedown defense against two high-level wrestlers in those bouts, and staying off his back will likely be key against Lee. The champion has displayed a versatile takedown game during his ONE career; once he gets his opponents down he’s quick to pass guard and try to gain mount, where he’ll throw heavy ground and pound and look for submissions.

Given how prolific a finisher Lee has been throughout his career (particularly in the first round), Ok will be best suited to try and take the champion deeper into the fight while relying on his takedown defense, and he’ll also benefit from attacking Lee’s legs early and often as he did against both Alvarez and Gafurov.

Ok has very little to lose here and everything to gain in what is only his third fight for ONE, but Lee will be looking to defend his title for a third time and do it as emphatically as he has in his previous bouts.

The main card for this event features some of the best matchups ONE can offer from a range of divisions, making it an event well-worth watching both for storylines and for the quality of the fighters competing. Pacio (25 years old) and Lee (23 years old) in particular stand out as two of the best young fighters in the world, and they’ll both look to tighten their grips on their divisions with wins on Friday. Victoria Lee has all the time in the world to develop, but she can continue adding to the legacy of the Lee name in ONE with a victory against Victoria Souza. If the main card isn’t intriguing enough, one additional bout of note on the preliminary card is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida making his long-awaited MMA debut against kickboxer Anderson “Braddock” Silva (3-1 MMA) in a classic grappler vs. striker matchup.

ONE Championship have put together an event worthy of celebrating the tenth anniversary of their first event, and these fights in Singapore on Friday will help to further establish the top fighters in their organization and showcase some of the brightest prospects in MMA.