On Sunday, March 31, ONE Championship held the biggest event in the company’s history from the Ryōgoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. ONE Championship: A New Era features four title fights, high-level kakutogi match-ups, and the debuts of former UFC champions Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.
In the night’s headliner, two-time ONE lightweight champion Eduard Folayang met a familiar foe in former champ Shinya Aoki. Folayang captured the belt for the first time with a thrilling third-round stoppage over Aoki in 2016. In his latest contest, he recaptured the belt with a decision victory over Amir Khan to win the vacated title, which became available when two-division titleholder Martin Nguyen relinquished it in 2018. Both fighters will bring a three-fight winning streak into their rematch.
In the biggest women’s MMA bout in promotional history, ONE women’s strawweight champion Jingnan Xiong put her title on the line for the third time when she goes up against undefeated ONE women’s atomweight titleholder Angela Lee. Xiong, 31, had impressed with dominant performances since joining the promotion in late 2017. The Chinese star had won her last eight contests. Lee, the most popular woman in the promotion, had won all nine of her career MMA bouts. Lee had stoppage victories in every bout except her championship battles against “V.V” Mei Yamaguchi. Xiong scored the fifth-round knockout to end Lee’s unbeaten run.
Two-division champion Aung La Nsang bettered his previous performance when he defended his ONE middleweight belt against Ken Hasegawa for the second time. Nsang capped off an incredible “Fight of the Year” with an absolutely brutal fifth-round knockout finish in their first meeting. Nsang put his five-fight winning streak on the line against the former Deep openweight champ, who had not fought since dropping their championship contest.
In the night’s fourth and final championship bout, long-reigning former ONE bantamweight champ Bibiano Fernandes looked to avenge his first loss in nearly eight years when he attempted to reclaim the belt he lost to current titleholder Kevin Belingon. Prior to the closely contested title fight, Fernandes had won 14 straight fights, including his first meeting against the Filipino champ. Belingon scored two of the biggest victories in his career when he defeated the aforementioned Nguyen and Fernandes in back-to-back fights to push his winning streak to seven.
In their promotional debuts, former UFC champs Johnson and Alvarez looked to move into the semifinals of their respective tournaments. Johnson returned for the first time since dropping his UFC flyweight title in controversial fashion against Henry Cejudo. He was welcomed by Japan’s Yuya Wakamatsu, who had won 10 of his last 12 fights. Alvarez looked to advance in the lightweight tournament, but he couldn’t get the victory over high-flying Russian Timofey Nastyukhin.
In the first main card bout of the evening, legendary two-time K-1 MAX champion Andy Souwer looked for his 99th career knockout victory when he takes on one of the world’s best in Yodsanklai Fairtex. Fairtex was on a 30-fight winning streak. Souwer defeated him after an extra round in their first meeting more than a decade ago. Yodsanklai redeemed himself with a second-round knockout victory.
The preliminary card kicked off at 2:30 a.m. ET on ONE Championship’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The main card continued live and free at 5:30 a.m. ET on B/R Live (United States), YouTube, and the ONE Championship app.