ONE Championship has become home to many of the world’s finest martial artists. Representing Muay Thai, kickboxing, mixed martial arts and now submission grappling, ONE has created a global platform for athletes to hone their craft and showcase it to a worldwide audience.
One of the most effective mixed martial arts featured in the ONE circle is wrestling. Considered by many to be the best base for an aspiring fighter, world-class wrestlers have the ability to dictate the pace of a match. Wrestlers can charge their opponents, making them more vulnerable to takedowns and submissions.
In keeping with yesterday’s Independence Day, we take a look at three of the promotion’s top American-born wrestlers. From young guns to living legends, these are three of the absolute best wrestlers in the ONE Championship.
#3. Odie Delaney
Odie Delaney starts the list. Debuting for ONE Championship in 2022, Delaney has already made a big impression with back-to-back placings and has drawn on his elite-level wrestling to overwhelm and subdue his opponents.
Delaney enrolled at South Walton High School after moving to Florida as a teenager. He became the school’s first state champion and placed 5th in the country in the seniors. His impressive performance throughout high school earned him a scholarship to The Citadel, a prestigious military academy in North Carolina.
A Division 1 wrestler, Delaney won four Southern Conference championships and became a Division 1 All-American. Speaking to Cageside Press about his impressive collegiate career, Delaney said:
“The pinnacle of my wrestling career was becoming a Division 1 All-American. It took five long years of hard work. Five tough years juggling academics, track and field and serving at one of the toughest military schools in the country.”
After graduating from college, Delaney spent time as a police officer in Charleston, NC. In June 2017, Delaney answered a call regarding a mass shooting that was taking place at Mother Emanuel AME Church. The incident would send Delaney down a dark path.
Luckily, the Witness found a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of martial arts.
#2. Jared Brooks
Jarred Brooks started his mixed martial arts career with an impressive 16-0 as an amateur, turned pro in 2014 and has since amassed an incredible 19-2 record, including an unbeaten streak in the ONE circle. Currently ranked as the No. 1 Strawweight of the ONE Championship, it’s only a matter of time before ‘The Monkey God’ gets his shot at reigning ONE Championship Strawweight Champion Joshua Pacio.
Growing up in Warsaw, Indiana, Brooks was destined for wrestling greatness. His father, uncle, and great-uncle were all former state wrestling champions. Exposure at a young age led to Brooks following in his family’s footsteps.
While attending Warsaw High School, Brooks compiled a 139-6 run during his four-year tenure, including an unbeaten record of 35-0 in his senior year, and won the state championship in the process. Brooks still ranks fifth in the school’s list of all-time wins.
“The Monkey God” continued his wrestling career at the Indiana Institute of Technology before transferring to the famous College Notre Dame. While there, Brooks decided he wanted to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.
Since moving to MMA, Brooks has competed in 15 different promotions around the world and gained experience in multiple weight classes including strawweight, flyweight and bantamweight.
#1. Demetrius Johnson
For most of the last decade, Demetrious Johnson was considered one of the top martial artists in the world.
‘Mighty Mouse’ dominated the competition in North America, making her ONE Championship debut in 2019 as part of the ONE Championship Flyweight World Grand Prix. Johnson led the table and won three straight to become Grand Prix Champion. He meets reigning ONE World Flyweight Champion Adriano Moraes for a second time on August 26 when the promotion makes its debut on Amazon Prime Video.
Raised in Parkland, Washington, Johnson was a three-sport athlete in high school, competing in wrestling, track and field, and cross country. Johnson placed 3rd in the state during his junior year and 2nd in his senior year. While he only competed in track and field and cross country to supplement his cardio for wrestling, Johnson was still good enough to compete in state championships for all three sports.
Despite having been offered several scholarships to attend college as a wrestler, Johnson chose to attend college locally for two years. After college, Johnson transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2007. He started his career with 10 straight wins en route to a contract with WEC.
In 30 career wins to date, Johnson has 12 wins by assist. While ‘Mighty Mouse’ has gotten the job done with his fists on several occasions, it’s his wrestling skills that pose the greatest threat to his opponents.
While speaking with ONE Championship, Johnson spoke about training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to supplement his wrestling and prepare for his ONE 161 showdown with Adriano Moraes.
“I found a legitimate jiu-jitsu gym under a new professor Yan McCane – a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt for 10 years. [He’s an] absolute monster. Very knowledgeable. Now I do a lot more jiu-jitsu because it’s eight minutes from my house and a gold mine for me because it kind of breathes life back into my development.”