Skip to main content

Warrior Women: 5 ONE Championship stars who could make the jump to submission grappling

These five female MMA fighters could join Danielle Kelly and Bianca Basilio in ONE's all-grappling division next.

ONE Championship is rapidly expanding its submission grappling division with the best ground fighters on the planet.

This past September, Mikey "Darth Rigatoni" Musumeci was crowned the first-ever ONE flyweight submission grappling world champion. A month later, 19-year-old prodigy Kade Ruotolo followed suit, capturing the inaugural ONE lightweight submission grappling world title.

The women's roster is growing, too.

This month, ADCC world champion Bianca Basilio will make her highly anticipated debut at ONE 163, while Brazilian jiu-jitsu sensation Danielle Kelly will make her second promotional appearance at ONE on Prime Video 4.

Kelly's first bout came against Japanese MMA legend Mei Yamaguchi at ONE X in March. If a fighter like Yamaguchi was willing to test her ground game against the best, then who could be next?

Here are five female MMA superstars who could make the jump in the future.

1. Angela Lee

"Unstoppable" Angela Lee (11-3) is not only the reigning ONE women's atomweight world champion, but she's also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and one of MMA's most dangerous submission artists.

The owner of eight submission victories inside the ONE circle, Lee is a talented all-around grappler with the ability to attack from both top position and her back.

To make matters more interesting, the 26-year-old already has a willing and ready opponent. She and Kelly have engaged in a war of words, with both black belts confident they'd tap the other in a submission grappling match.

2. Michelle Nicolini

Another no-brainer for submission grappling is 13-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Michelle Nicolini (6-3).

Widely regarded as one of the best female jiu-jitsu players of all time, the Brazilian has spent the past few years largely focusing on her MMA career. To date, she owns three first-round submission victories inside the ONE circle, proving that her elite grappling skills translate across multiple combat sports.

Moreover, Nicolini holds a 2019 MMA win over atomweight queen Lee, making a potential submission grappling showdown between the two an appealing option.

3. Itsuki Hirata

Japanese standout Itsuki Hirata (6-1) is one of the most skilled and exciting MMA fighters in ONE Championship's atomweight division. She is also one of its best overall grapplers.

A judo black belt, the 23-year-old possesses a bevy of throws and takedown techniques to bring the fight to the canvas. And once it's on the mat, Hirata loves to overwhelm her opponents with stifling top pressure as she hunts for a variety of submissions.

The woman known as "Android 18" started her ONE Championship career in spectacular fashion, recording a pair of submissions in her first two bouts, proving her ground game to be truly world-class.

4. Ayaka Miura

Former ONE women's strawweight world title challenger Ayaka "Zombie" Miura (11-5) is a true submission specialist.

Compact but brutally strong, the judo black belt has world-class takedowns and crushing pressure from the top position. And unlike many Brazilian jiu-jitsu-based grapplers who will attack from a variety of positions, Miura has a concise but highly effective submission game, having earned all of her ONE Championship wins via scarf-hold Americana.

The Japanese superstar's unique ground game would make for an intriguing matchup with any elite grappler.

5. Alyona Rassohyna

Finally, Ukrainian sensation Alyona Rassohyna (13-5) seems like a perfect fit for submission grappling. Of her 13 professional MMA wins, an incredible 10 have come by way of armbar.

The 32-year-old burst onto the scene in February 2021 at "ONE: Unbreakable III" when she submitted Thai superstar Stamp Fairtex. And while she would lose the rematch by split decision, Rassohyna has already proven herself to be a legitimate submission wizard.

With her ultra-aggressive approach, the Ukrainian would love to compete under the global submission grappling rule set, which prioritizes submission attempts above all else.

This story first published at