The Best ONE Championship Debuts of 2022


Turkey’s Hilal Amir arrived in ONE with a huge reputation, unbeaten in his seven previous pro fights and stopping every opponent. His style is explosive as six of those seven wins have come by KO or TKO. It was left to the experienced Timofey Nastyukhin to welcome him to the organization. Nastyukhin, third in the lightweight division at the time, had some success in the first round until a game-changing right hand from Amir led to an impressive debut stoppage.

Ilya Freymanov

When it comes to debuts, not many would want to take on a former two-weight world champion, but Russia’s Ilya Freymanov did just that when he faced Martin Nguyen in September. And did he make a statement. A sensational performance was capped in the third round when a brutal knee was followed by punches, dropping Nguyen before the referee stepped in to stop proceedings. Expect great things from Freymanov in 2023.

Saygid Izagakhmaev

There’s not much more pressure in professional MMA than being named Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protégé. That’s exactly the title Saygid Izagakhmaev wore when he debuted with James Nakashima in January. The Dagestani didn’t have everything his way, with Nakashima doing a good job of keeping the fight going. But like all of Khabib’s men, they often find a way to get to the ground, and the same was true here when Izagakhmaev was finally able to engage a Brabo choke – his 13th duty as a pro. Two more wins since then have set the stage for an exciting 2023.

Mikey Musumeci

When it comes to grappling and BJJ, there are few bigger names than Mikey Musumeci. The multiple world champion arrived at the ONE in April to take on Japanese icon Masakazu Imanari in a much-anticipated encounter. The American put down a clinic of super-smooth groundwork and transitions, culminating in a smooth rear naked choke. It was martial arts at the highest level.

Tye Ruotolo

Along with his twin brother, Kade, Tye Ruotolo is considered a child prodigy in the grappling world. At just 19, he took on the legendary Garry Tonon for the ONE Mate in April. For 82 seconds, his arm was raised after a Darce choke – just like he predicted before the fight. With Kade, the current lightweight submission grappling champion, could we see brother versus brother in 2023?

Smilla Sundell

What a year 2022 for Swede Smilla Sundell. She made her debut in February, aged just 17, going to war against Australia’s Dinadra Martin in the women’s Muay Thai division strawweight division. With a performance well above her years, Sundell dropped Martin multiple times before claiming a TKO in the third round and a hugely impressive win. Just two months later, she would be world champion, taking the gold from American Jackie Buntan in her second professional fight. What a view.

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