ONE Championship will have athletes from all over the world competing this Sunday. Here are the five Americans that are set to fight this weekend in Tokyo.
ONE Championship returns to Tokyo this Sunday with a blockbuster event so big, it had to be separated into two different cards. The Asian-based promotion, which was named FanSided’s 2018 promotion of the year, is set to hold its 100th event this Sunday with ONE: Century Part I and II. Part I will be headlined by a rematch between atomweight champion Angela Lee and strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan. Meanwhile, Part II will close out with two-division champion Aung La N Sang defending his light heavyweight belt against current heavyweight champion Brandon Vera.
An MMA event held across the globe might make some American fans hesitant to tune in. However, ONE: Century will feature five American fighters, with four of them competing for titles. These are high level fighters and are well worth tuning in to see perform.
Here are the Americans that will be competing this Sunday at ONE: Century.
Born and raised in the United States, former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson (29-3-1) will be making his return to Tokyo, Japan when he takes on Danny Kingad (13-1) in the final of the flyweight World Grand Prix. A native of Washington, Johnson trains out of AMC Pankration with head coach Matt Hume. However, Hume will not be in his corner during this bout, or for any bout in ONE for that matter. Hume is the senior Vice President of ONE Championship and is not allowed to corner Johnson for the time being.
Having his head coach absent from his corner has not been a problem for Johnson, who has gone 2-0 since joining ONE Championship. Many of you might remember that Johnson was “traded” to ONE by the UFC in exchange for Ben Askren. Johnson was traded after losing his flyweight title to Henry Cejudo by split-decision back in 2018. Meanwhile, Askren is currently 1-1 under the UFC banner.
Upon arrival, Johnson was immediately put into an eight man Grand Prix style tournament for flyweights. Johnson grinded out a unanimous decision in his semifinal bout against Tatsumitsu Wada. Prior to that bout, Johnson scored a second-round submission over Yuya Wakamatsu in the quarterfinals. While certainly never one to look past the opponent in front of him, Johnson’s next bout could be for the ONE Championship flyweight belt if he is able to defeat Kingad. Kingad’s lone loss came at the hands of current flyweight champion Adriano Moraes. A win here for Johnson could set up a potential date between himself and Moraes, where he will aim to grab a new title after losing his UFC title over a year ago.
Although Angela Lee (9-2) represents Singapore during competition, the current ONE atomweight champion holds citizenship in both Canada and America. Born in Vancouver and raised in Hawaii, Lee grew up training heavily in the martial arts, specifically Taekwondo and Brazilian jiu jitsu. Lee holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, as well as a first degree black belt in Taekwondo. Lee made her ONE Championship debut back in 2015 at just 18 years old, where she submitted her opponent via first-round armbar. Since then, Lee has gone 8-2 in the promotion, capturing the world Atomweight title in 2016 and defending it three times thereafter.
With all success comes adversity, which is what Lee has been going through lately. Lee is currently on a two-fight skid, and is hoping to not make it three. Lee faces a tough test in Xiong Jing Nan, the woman who previously defeated her in a title bout for the ONE strawweight belt. Xiong defeated Lee by fifth-round TKO a little over six months ago, but Lee is looking to reverse the outcome and defend her belt for a fourth time on Sunday. A win for Lee would help her get back on track, halt Xiong’s nine fight win streak, and prevent Xiong from becoming a two division champion. It all goes down in the main event on Sunday at ONE: Century part I.
American-born Filipino Brandon Vera (16-7) is currently the ONE Championship heavyweight champion and has amassed two title defenses since he won the inaugural title in 2015. Now looking to become a double champion, Vera will have his hands full when he takes on Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang, a double champion in his own right. This will be the first defense of the light heavyweight title for Aung La, who has not fought at the weight class since early 2018.
For Vera, joining ONE Championship in 2014 marked a turning point in his mixed martial arts career. After a promising start in the UFC, which included wins over the likes of Frank Mir and Fabiano Scherner, Vera dropped four of his last six bouts and was subsequently cut by the UFC. Looking for a fresh start, Vera joined ONE Championship and never looked back. Vera has since rattled off four-straight victories, all of them coming by way of knockout. The heavy-handed American has gotten significant praise as of late from his ancestral homeland, the Philippines. Vera currently lives and trains in the Philippines, and even opened up his own Alliance Training Center, an affiliate gym of Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California. Although born and raised in America, Vera is proud of his Filipino roots and has done a lot of good in the country using martial arts as an intermediate.
Vera will be looking for his fifth straight victory at ONE: Century when he stands opposite Aung La N Sang, with more than just a winning streak on the line.
Just like his older sister, Christian Lee (12-3) also represents Singapore in competition despite being both an American and a Canadian citizen. Lee was trained in martial arts from a very young age, learning from his parents who were both black belts in various disciplines. Christian is one half of the only pair of sibling mixed martial arts world champions today.
Lee is the current ONE Championship lightweight titleholder after defeating former champion Shinya Aoki in by technical knockout at ONE: Enter the Dragon in May. Lee is stepping in on very short notice to replace fellow American Eddie Alvarez, who was forced to pull out of this World Grand Prix final due to injury. Lee stepped in with no hesitation, and will now square off against Dagestani jiu jitsu champion Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (8-1). The winner will lay claim to the ONE lightweight World Grand Prix championship belt. It will be an interesting situation if Arslanaliev is to defeat Lee, which could then prompt an immediate rematch for Lee’s actual lightweight championship belt. Still very early in his career, Lee has already achieved a great deal and will be looking to add to his résumé come fight night.
While not as well-known as the other two, American Janet Todd can certainly hold her own in the world of Muay Thai. Todd is a Muay Thai specialist hailing from Southern California, and has professional experience in both Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Todd is currently 2-0 in kickboxing and 0-1 in Muay Thai, all inside the ONE Championship promotion.
Todd’s last Muay Thai bout came against Stamp Fairtex this past February for the inaugural ONE atomweight Muay Thai world title. Todd would fall short and lose by unanimous decision. Following the loss, Todd went on to win her next two kickboxing bouts, one by TKO and one by decision. Todd’s upcoming Muay Thai bout at ONE: Century will be against Belarus’ Ekaterina Vandaryeva. Vandaryeva is an accomplished Muay Thai and kickboxing practitioner herself, with her most notable win coming over former UFC strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Furthermore, Todd trains and fights all while balancing a career in aerospace engineering. The 33-year-old earned her master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo when she was just 23. Ten years later and Todd is still competing in Muay Thai, and on Sunday will be looking for her first professional win, something that will be a culmination of all the hard work and sacrifice she has put into the sport.
ONE: Century takes place on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, live from the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. Follow along with FanSided MMA who will be cage-side for all your live results and highlights from the night.