The Real Winners and Losers from ONE on TNT III

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IApril 22, 2021

The Real Winners and Losers from ONE on TNT III

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    ONE Championship returned to TNT for a third straight week on Wednesday night, and the card was one for the books.

    In the ONE on TNT III main event, former UFC star John Lineker stayed unbeaten in ONE Championship, shutting the lights off on Sanford MMA product Troy Worthen. That win is more than likely to have earned Lineker a crack at ONE bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes.

    In the ONE on TNT co-main event, Japanese flyweight contender Yuya Wakamatsu seemingly earned a title shot of his own, defeating Reece McLaren to assert himself as the next man in line for flyweight king Adriano Moraes. 

    Elsewhere on the card, we saw big wins from Ok Rae Yoon, Miao Li Tao, and Nieky Holzken. But who really gained and lost the most ground by the time all was said and done?f 

    Keep scrolling for our take.

Loser: The UFC

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    The UFC, like any other fight promotion, occasionally parts ways with fighters to manage the size of its roster. Generally speaking, it’s easy to understand why the promotion releases the fighters it does. 

    It’s decision to let John Lineker go, however, was an immediate head-scratcher, and remains that way today

    Not only has Lineker long been one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, but he’s also well-established as a world-class talent. Why the UFC would jettison a fighter of that description is difficult to say–but their blunder was ONE Championship’s gain.

    After parting ways with the UFC, Lineker promptly signed with ONE. He’s now 3-0 with the promotion, with a decision win over Muin Gafurov, a TKO win over former ONE bantamweight champ Kevin Belingon, and as of ONE on TNT III, a blistering knockout win over American wrestler Troy Worthen.

    With those wins behind him, Lineker has more than earned a crack at ONE bantamweight king Bibiano Fernandes—arguably the best fighter in the promotion’s history. 

    If he wins that fight, the UFC’s decision to let him go will only look more foolish.

Loser: Adriano Moraes

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    ONE flyweight champ Adriano Moraes is still riding the high of a massive, knockout win over former UFC champ Demetrious Johnson at ONE on TNT I, but he’s got a big problem coming his way: 26-year-old Japanese knockout artist Yuya Wakamatsu.

    Wakamatsu returned to action in the ONE on TNT III co-main event, where he took on BJJ specialist and long-time flyweight contender Reece McLaren. The young Japanese puncher didn’t get another knockout for his highlight reel, but what he got was arguably even better: a decision win over the kind of grappler who would have given him fits a few years ago.

    Now on an impressive four-fight streak—having not lost since he came up short against Johnson—Wakamatsu seems to have done enough to earn a shot at Moraes. 

    There’s no way to know how that potential matchup will shake out, but after watching Wakamatsu deal with McLaren, it’s clear Moraes is going to have his hands very full.

Winner: Eddie Alvarez

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    Eddie Alvarez last fought on the ONE on TNT I card, when he was disqualified for landing a series of inadvertent, illegal strikes to the back of Iuri Lapicus’ head. It was a disastrous outcome for the former UFC and Bellator champ, who had not fought since the summer of 2019, and a moment that generated immediate controversy among fans. 

    Thankfully, ONE Championship promptly revealed that Alvarez would get a lightning quick turnaround and fight the winner of an upcoming fight between former ONE featherweight champ Marat Gafurov and rising Korean contender lightweight Ok Rae Yoon. 

    That Gafurov-Ok bout went down at ONE on TNT III, with Ok winning by decision.

    Just like that, Alvarez has another fight booked, and more importantly, the opportunity to put his DQ loss to Lapicus behind him.

Winner: Second Chances

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    Back in October of 2020, China’s Miao Li Tao lost a decisive, unanimous decision to Japan’s Ryuto Sawada. Thanks to a last-minute shuffle, the pair were booked for a short-notice, immediate rematch at ONE on TNT III. 

    From the get-go, it was evident that Miao had learned from his 2020 loss to Sawada, and by the time the third-round ended, he’d actually had enough success to even the score with a unanimous decision win of his own.

    It was a classic example of a second chance paying off. What’s more, all signs now point to a tie-breaking trilogy fight between the two strawweight rivals. 

Winner: Father Time

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    Image provided by ONE Championship

    Father Time is undefeated, and he picked up his latest win at the expense of Australian Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr on the ONE on TNT III undercard.

    Parr, 44, took on a fellow striking legend in Dutch kickboxing star Nieky Holzken, 37. It was his first fight back since August of 2019, when he lost to Danilo Zanolini in the RIZIN ring.

    The comeback didn’t go as planned. 

    While Parr landed some nice shots, it was clear from the opening exchange that Holzken was the far faster, stronger man in the cage. Midway through the second round, the Dutchman capitalized on those advantages, flattening the Australian with a lightning-quick kick to the noggin—his third and final knockdown of the fight.

    It was a great win for Holzken. As for Parr, it was clear that while the technique is still there, the speed and agility required to use properly are was not.