How ONE Championship Became Home For Elite Grapplers

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Shinya Aoki
Shinya Aoki is one of the greatest champions that ONE Championship has ever had in its 10-year history.

Renowned grappler Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is set to make his second appearance with ONE Championship on Friday, December 3, joining a long list of grapplers to call the promotion their home.

In early November, ONE Championship announced that Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Andre Galvao has signed with the promotion alongside his rival Gordon Ryan, who linked up with the Singapore-based outfit in late March.

Their arrivals follow in the footsteps of legendary grapplers who chose to join ONE Championship like Shinya Aoki, Ben Askren and Masakazu Imanari, the inventor of the high-level technique now known as the Imanari Roll.

Of these names, Askren and Aoki stand out since these two fighters really did put ONE Championship on the map after stellar performances that led to lengthy title reigns.

Askren took hold of the entire ONE welterweight division as soon as he joined the promotion in 2014 and he was practically unstoppable throughout his entire four-year run, holding the welterweight title for a division record of 1,517 days before a short retirement in 2018.

The two-time ONE lightweight champion in Aoki had been with the promotion since its early days and helped develop a mainstream interest in Asian MMA thanks to his otherworldly grappling techniques.

To this day, Aoki holds the distinction for the longest combined reign with the lightweight title in the organization at 1,363 days and continues to fight for the promotion at age 38, with his latest victory coming against bitter rival Eduard Folayang last April.

But inevitably, ground specialists like Garry Tonon and Bibiano Fernandes come in to take their place and restart the cycle of consistently having decorated grapplers on the roster.

At ONE: Winter Warriors, “Buchecha” will get his toughest test to date as he faces renowned knockout artist Kang Ji Won, who has won all five of his fights via knockout in the first round.

Almeida must use his world-class grappling skills in combination with strikes to avoid Kang’s heavy-handed shots and aim for a finish via submission early and quickly.

Kang’s stamina on the ground is yet to be tested and Almeida looks to be the first to put an end to his opponent’s five-fight win streak.

ONE: Winter Warriors will be streaming live on the ONE Super App and official ONE Championship YouTube channel for fans in Asia on Friday at 8:30 PM.

Meanwhile, the North American audience can catch the entire card via B/R Live at 7:30 AM ET.

Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida
Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida faces a tough fight against South Korean knockout artist Kang Ji Won at ONE: Winter Warriors on December 3, 2021.
Photo: ONE Championship

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