Now that 2018 is in the books, Combat Press is taking a look back at the best that the sport of kickboxing had to offer. Over the next few weeks, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the ring to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.
The biggest story of the year in kickboxing was the addition of the ONE Super Series to ONE Championship. Already one of the largest mixed martial arts promotions in the world, ONE’s inclusion of kickboxing and Muay Thai bouts has brought the organization to the next level.
ONE Championship debuted the Super Series in 2018 on the back of Evolve Fight Team member and former multiple-time Lumpinee stadium champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao. He participated in the first-ever striking-only bout in the promotion. The contest was well received, so the promotion expanded its product to encompass all forms of combat sports, specifically Muay Thai and kickboxing under the ONE Super Series banner. Not only was Sam-A featured in the first Muay Thai bout in promotional history, but he was crowned the first champion following a fourth-round elbow knockout against decorated Surinamese kickboxer Sergio Wielzen in May.
Since then, the promotion has held a total of 57 striking-rules bouts (33 Muay Thai and 24 kickboxing), which represents roughly 25 percent of the total number of fights the company held in 2018. The addition of the new combat sports into the promotion’s cycle of events featured a stockpiling of talent from across the globe. Despite the promotion’s lack of European presence, it didn’t stop ONE Championship brass from signing top-flight talents like two-time K-1 MAX world champion Giorgio Petrosyan and former GLORY welterweight titleholder Nieky Holzken.
The greatest move by the promotion, however, was the signing of former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadium champions and mainstays to leave Bangkok, Thailand, for an opportunity to grow their product worldwide. This list of names includes Yodsanklai Fairtex, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, Petchdam Kaiyanghadao, Chamuaktong Fightermuaythai, Lerdsila Phuket Top Team, Singtongnoi Por Telakun and more. The promotion also signed female talent like Stamp Fairtex, Kai Ting Chuang and Yodcherry Sityodtong in an attempt to bring female Muay Thai to a bigger audience.
The acquisitions of popular stars, former champions and upcoming prospects will likely push ONE Championship into the discussion for promotion of the year in 2019. Its stacked roster of athletes, exciting events and the 2019 ONE Super Series featherweight grand prix will prove to be a major step in the right direction for the promotion.
The addition of the ONE Super Series is the 2018 Combat Press “Kickboxing Story of the Year.”
Other finalists: Tenshin Nasukawa Fights in crossover bouts, Kunlun Fight expands events, the Pascal Schroth situation, GLORY’s eight-man tournament
Make sure you check out the rest of the Combat Press 2018 Kickboxing Award winners.