The Real Winners and Losers from ONE on TNT IV
ONE Championship promoted the final of its four-event stint on TNT on Wednesday night, and the card gave fans plenty to talk about.
In the main event, Reinier de Ridder defeated Aung La N Sang to win the ONE light heavyweight title. It was his second-straight win over Myanmar-born American, after submitting him to win the promotion's middleweight title late last year.
In the ONE on TNT IV co-main event, rising South Korean contender Ok Rae Yoon picked up the biggest victory of his career, nearly stopping former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez en route to a decision victory.
Elsewhere on the card, we watched Kirill Grishenko pick up an upset win over Senegalese wrestling sensation Oumar “Reug Reug” Kane, Shinya Aoki submit Eduard Folayang, and lots more.
But who really won and lost on ONE’s latest event on TNT? Keep scrolling for our take.
Loser: Second Chances
Back in October, Aung La N Sang surrendered the ONE middleweight title to Dutch submission specialist Reinier De Ridder, tapping to a first-round rear-naked choke. The one consolation for Aung La N Sang at the time was that he also held the promotion’s light heavyweight title.
After ONE on TNT IV, that’s no longer the case, and it’s once again thanks to De Ridder.
Aung La N Sang had originally been slated to defend his light heavyweight strap against Vitaly Bigdash on the card. When Bigdash was forced out of the fight, however, De Ridder agreed to step in.
It was an unexpected second chance for Aung La N Sang—a shot at redemption he didn’t figure to have quite so soon. Regrettably for “The Burmese Python” and his throngs of fans in Myanmar, De Ridder once again came out on top, winning a decision with a masterful display of grappling prowess.
Just like that, De Ridder is in the position Aung La N Sang was in as recently as September: He’s a two-division titleholder in ONE Championship.
Aung La N Sang, meanwhile, will return to South Florida with no belts in his luggage, and the knowledge that second chances don’t always pan out.
Winner: Making the Most of Opportunity
When South Korea’s Ok Rae Yoon signed on to fight former ONE featherweight champ Marat Gafurov at ONE on TNT III, he had no idea a win would catapult him into a fight with former UFC and Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez—but the world works in mysterious ways.
After Alvarez was controversially disqualified in a fight with Iuri Lapicus at ONE on TNT I, it was announced that he would be booked for a short-notice fight with the winner of Ok and Gafurov’s fight.
Ok ultimately beat Gafurov by decision, and at ONE on TNT IV, he beat Alvarez the same way. It was far and away the biggest win of his career, and a classic example of making the most of the opportunities you’re given.
Having done so, Ok is now likely only one win away from a crack at ONE lightweight champion Christian Lee. It’s conceivable that he could even be next in line.
Loser: Eddie Alvarez's Run in ONE
When Eddie Alvarez signed with ONE Championship in late 2018, the expectation was that he would quickly work his way to a title shot and swipe the belt for himself.
That’s not the way things have gone.
After suffering a brutal knockout to Timofey Nastyukhin in his ONE debut, Alvarez picked up a solid submission win over Eduard Folayang, only to be disqualified against Lapicus in his next fight—though that result was later changed to a no contest. Alvarez then had the chance to get back on track against South Korea’s Ok Rae Yoon at ONE on TNT IV, but ultimately lost the fight by decision.
How he rebounds from this latest setback remans to be seen, but it’s going to take some serious work.
One way or the other, his run in ONE has not gone the way he planned.
Loser: The Legend of Reug Reug'
It wasn’t long ago that we were calling “Reug Reug” one of the real winners of ONT on TNT IV. He’d just smashed Patrick Schmid into applesauce, and his status as one of MMA’s cult heroes was alive and well.
How quickly things change.
While Reug Reug—whose real name is Oumar Kane—still has a very bright future, he looked extremely raw when he returned to action against Kirill Grishenko at ONE on TNT IV. The hulking Senegalese wrestler was controlled for most of the first round, only to be stopped by a bizarre punch to the throat in the waning moments of the second.
He won’t lose a ton of ground in defeat, but he’s going to have to string together quite a few wins to recapture the mystique he was developing heading into this fight.
Winner: The Resurgence of Shinya Aoki
Japanese submission specialist Shinya Aoki has been fighting for long enough that he’s been counted out by fans on more than one occasion. Despite all the times he’s been labeled washed up or over the hill, however, he’s still here—and he’s still winning.
Aoki picked up his latest win in the final bout of the ONE on TNT IV undercard, submitting a fellow former lightweight champion in Eduard Folayang. With that win, he improved to 2-1 in a trilogy with Folayang, and more importantly, extended his current win-streak to four.
With four wins behind him—and the No. 4 spot in the ONE lightweight rankings—Aoki is closing in on another crack at the ONE lightweight belt currently owned by Christian Lee. There’s certainly no guarantee he’ll reclaim that belt, but one way or the other, his longevity is truly remarkable.
Winner: The Northcutts
Former UFC star Sage Northcutt’s time in ONE Championship has not gone the way he planned. He suffered a brutal knockout loss to Cosmo Alexandre in his promotional debut, and has been stuck on the sidelines ever since. He was actually supposed to return to action against Shinya Aoki at ONE on TNT IV, but was unfortunately forced out of the matchup after testing positive for COVID-19.
Thankfully, Sage’s sister Colbey has been representing their family well while he’s been away.
Colbey made a splash in her ONE debut back in 2019, picking up a decision win over Putri Padmi. At ONE on TNT IV, she moved to 2-0 in the ONE Circle with a first-round submission win over Courtney Martin.
She's still just 2-1 overall, but the future certainly looks bright.