ONE Championship returned to TNT on Wednesday evening, and fight fans will be talking about it for days to come.
In the highest-profile fight of the night, ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes shut the lights off on former UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson, who is widely considered the greatest fighter of all time. The fight immediately stands out as one of the biggest upsets in recent MMA history.
While the card also saw former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez lose by DQ after inadvertently punching Iuri Lapicus in the back of the head, the disappointment of that outcome was softened by dazzling wins from heavyweight prospect Oumar Kane, Muay Thai juggernaut Rodtang Jitmuangnon, and kickboxing ace Enriko Kehl.
Of course, if you tuned in for the card, you know all of that.
But who really won and lost by the time ONE’s big bash on TNT had concluded? Answering that question takes some careful consideration.
Luckily, B/R has you covered.
Very few people believed ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes could defeat Demetrious Johnson — a UFC transplant and one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
In the end, Moraes didn’t just beat Johnson. He destroyed him.
After a strong first round, much of which he spent in top position, Moraes knocked the former UFC flyweight king out with an uppercut and a knee from top position — a legal maneuver in the perilous ONE Circle.
It’ll go down as one of the biggest upsets in ONE Championship history. More importantly, it’ll be remembered as the moment the world was forced to put some respect on Moraes’ name.
Now 19-3 overall — with all three of his losses coming by way of debatable split decisions — he’s irrefutably one of the very best fighters on the planet.
Adriano Moraes deserves a ton of credit for knocking out Demetrious Johnson at ONE on TNT 1, but he doesn’t deserve all of the credit.
His coaches and training partners at American Top Team deserve a nod too.
As the home of stars like Jorge Masvidal, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Kyoji Horiguchi, and countless other MMA stars, ATT has long stood out as one of the best gyms in the world.
Moraes’ career-changing win over Johnson only cements that reputation.
There’s a segment of the MMA community that believes that all of the world’s best fighters are in the UFC, and that the fighters that populate the sport’s other top promotions are somehow inferior.
Those fans are eating crow after ONE on TNT 1, and will probably spend the next few days picking bits of bone and feather off their plates.
Hardcore fans have known it all along, but there are plenty of world class fighters in ONE, Bellator, the PFL, and other promotions — many of whom could dethrone current UFC champs.
Moraes’ knockout win over Johnson is just the latest bit of evidence supporting that reality.
Every fight fan with a pulse was excited to watch former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez take on former ONE lightweight title challenger Iuri Lapicus on the ONE on TNT 1 main card.
Unfortunately, the fight ended in disaster.
In the first round, after taking Lapicus down, Alvarez unleashed a handful of punches that looked fairly innocuous in the time. The referee, however, promptly stopped the action, believing that Alvarez had landed some strikes to the back of Lapicus’ head. After an extremely tense period, the ref then handed Alvarez a red card, meaning the former UFC and Bellator champ lost the fight by disqualification.
Fans will spend the coming days debating whether or not Alvarez’s punches were legal or not, and whether he deserved to lose by DQ, but it almost doesn’t matter. It was the kind of fight with no winners.
Alvarez certainly didn’t win. Lapicus, who struggled out of the cage while fans on Twitter accused him of milking a foul, certainly didn’t either — contrary to what his record shows. ONE definitely didn’t come out on top — it was the worst outcome imaginable for the promotion’s first fight back on TNT. And the fans? All they got was a heaping serving of disappointment.
It was a lose-lose-lose-lose situation.
Thankfully the other fights on the bill made up for it.
Senegalese heavyweight Oumar Kane — better known by the nickname “Reug Reug” — has achieved near mythical status among hardcore MMA fans, despite only just starting his career in the sport.
His legend continued on the ONE on TNT undercard.
Reug Reug had originally been matched up with Iran’s Medhi Barghi, but when Barghi was forced off the card due to safety protocols, the Senegalese wrestler was paired with Switzerland’s Patrick Schmid, who had originally been scheduled to meet Rade Opacic in a kickboxing fight.
The opponent change didn’t seem to matter. Reug Reug was aggressive from the opening bell, bull rushing his opponent with wild punches. It was a risky strategy against a far more polished striker, but thankfully for his growing throngs of supporters, it all worked out. After banging his foe up on the feet, the Senegalese talent drove the action to the mat and finished things off with an avalanche of ground strikes to move to 3-0.
There’s no telling how long Reug Reug can keep his legend alive, but for the moment, he remains a cult hero among MMA fans.