Friday, December 2, 2016– Brandon “The Truth” Vera entered as the ONE Heavyweight World Champion, and is leaving the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila unscathed.
The Filipino hero steamrolled through Hideki “Shrek” Sekine on Friday Night, 2 December, at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION. He pummeled the unbeaten challenger with a ground and pound flurry, causing the referee to stop the contest at 3:11 in the first round.
Just grabbing that first title defense in-front of his home crowd has easily become the pinnacle of his still blossoming career.
“This will complete my movie. This can complete a chapter in the book, for sure,” he says with a smile. “It is great fighting for ONE, an organization that really cares about their fighters — not just one of their favorites, but all of them.
“And just being here in the Philippines and being in Asia — it is what I should have done a long time ago, but everything in life is timing, and I am doing it now.”
Truthfully speaking, Vera made this look too easy. The champ spent the first minute of the round stalking the man they call “Shrek” and whipped a few high kicks at him, piercing the Japanese heavyweight’s defenses.
The Filipino striker lunged at Sekine with a knee, but the Japanese absorbed the blow, grabbed his bigger opponent and pressured him against the cage. It was practically ineffective. Vera retaliated by grabbing a Thai plum and delivering a massive knee. “Shrek” tried countering with a tornado of a jumping overhand right, but the title holder dodged it effortlessly.
At one point, the Japanese grappling expert attempted a takedown and rolled on the ground in a variety of ways to grab Vera’s leg, but the champ evaded and allowed the challenger to stand back up.
Sekine made it back to his feet and Vera stalked again with a series of kicks, one of which crushed the challenger and caused him to fall on his back. Vera immediately took his opening and attacked with a non-stop melee of punches. The ref had no choice but to intervene and call the bout.
“I know Hideki wanted, for sure, to take me to the ground,” Vera says. “I watch a lot of video. All of his video was on the ground. He has been to Abu Dhabi and he has competed with the best in the world. I watched a lot of film on this guy and I, for sure, know he wanted to be on the ground.
“That is why I did not engage him on the cage right away,” he continues. “I made sure I kept my distance and stayed away from the cage, just so we did not have to get on the ground the first round.”
The only time the champ was on the ground was when he ended the fight.
Vera is successful in his first title defense. The champ improves to 15-7 and remains undefeated in ONE Championship. Sekine, however, suffers the first blemish of his career and falls to 7-1.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes and Reece “Lightning” McLaren put on a tremendous show in a five-round title contest for Fernandes’ ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
The two warriors engaged in a high-level striking and grappling encounter in the co-main event of ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, which took place Friday evening, 2 December, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Both Fernandes and McLaren had their moments in an extremely close bout, which reflected on the judges’ scorecards, as a split decision was read in favor of the defending champion.
The first two rounds saw a dominant Fernandes, who tagged McLaren repeatedly with looping right hands and thunderous leg kicks. Whenever Fernandes would shoot for a takedown, he was also successful.
On the ground, McLaren tried to hang tough with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, defending well against submissions and transitioning back up to his feet when he saw the opportunity.
In the third round however, McLaren let loose his offense, swinging wildly with left hooks until one punched landed so cleanly that it broke Fernandes’ nose from the sheer magnitude of the impact. Fernandes tried desperately to recuperate, but McLaren kept pushing aggressively.
In the fourth round, Fernandes regained control of the bout, keeping McLaren at bay with beautiful boxing from range. McLaren tried his best to close the gap but was largely unsuccessful.
The last round saw both fighters going for broke.
At the end of the bout, both Fernandes and McLaren knew they had been in an absolute war — one that will go down in the books as one of the best bantamweight contests in ONE Championship history.
It was comprehensive performance from both fighters who gave everything they had. In the end, Fernandes showed just enough championship mettle to eke out the victory over the talented young McLaren.
With the win, Fernandes retains his ONE Bantamweight World Championship and improves his record to 20-3 while McLaren falls to 9-4.
Despite the loss however, McLaren has showed great skill and will most likely remain a mainstay at the top of ONE Championship’s bantamweight division. Could a rematch be in the cards? Fans surely would not mind one bit if these two went at it one more time.
Mark Striegl got back on the winning track a year after losing his previous contest, and was able to grind his way to a satisfying win over replacement opponent Sotir Kichukov. The bout took place on Friday, 2 December, in Manila at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION.
Striegl used takedowns and ground control to earn a unanimous decision after three rounds against his Bulgarian opponent.
Striegl previously fought and lost to number one bantamweight title-contender Reece McLaren, but rebounded to beat a game and dangerous Kichukov in front of a partisan crowd who cheered him on. Striegl came out kicking Kichukov’s body and legs early on, before shooting and landing a double-leg takedown.
Kichukov worked actively from his full guard, attempting to set up submission holds off his back. Sriegl maintained good posture, however, and kept his neck and limbs out of danger before standing and punching downward.
Striegl advanced to a dominant side mount headlock position, but was soon swept by his opponent out of the Saigon Sports Club. Striegl did not allow Kichukov to keep top position for long, and scrambled back up to his feet.
The second round saw Striegl earn top position on the ground with a headlock once more, but Kichukov was again able to escape and get up. On the feet, Kichukov successfully walked Striegl down, backing him against the cage with punches, before Striegl countered with another smooth takedown.
On the mat, Kichukov briefly threatened to set up a triangle choke and an arm bar, but Striegl defended nicely from inside the active full-guard.
Kichukov came out firing to start the third and final round, with punches and kicks that landed. Striegl responded once more with a takedown, a minute and a half into the period. Kichukov had the presence of mind to try and get back to his feet, but was forced to settle for full guard.
Throughout the rest of the round Striegl capably shut down stand-up attempts from Kichukov with good head position and hip control. Time in the fight ran out with Striegl on Kichukov’s still on the mat after Kichukov had given up his back while trying to get up off the canvas.
In the end, all three ringside judges scored the contest in favor of the stifling Evolve MMA fighter, and Striegl’s record improved to 15-2. With his loss, Kichukov’s career mark dipped to 13-5.
Toni “Dynamite” Tauru ruined Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio’s big night.
The former ONE Bantamweight World Title contender made quick work of the Filipino hero at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, and shocked the home nation crowd at Manila’s Mall Of Asia Arena by submitting him via rear-naked choke with 1:03 remaining in the first round.
With the victory, Tauru snaps a three-fight skid and can finally breathe a little easier.
“It was very emotional. I dropped a couple of tears after the fight in the cage because I have had a lot of pressure on myself because of those lost fights,” the Finnish mixed martial artist willingly admits. “I know I fight in the big leagues and somebody always has to lose, and I have had very close fights. But still, it is great stress to come in with a losing streak.”
Tauru dominated the contest from the opening bell. The Finnish bantamweight immediately shot in for the takedown, and although the man known as “Gravity” attempted to reverse the move, the former title challenger wisely grabbed his back and locked in his hooks.
Eustaquio desperately tried to defend the outsider’s every advance, but Tauru transitioned his legs into a figure-four around his opponent’s waist and patiently bided his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to slide his arms underneath the Filipino’s chin.
Finally, “Dynamite” displayed his flexibility by raising his right leg, hooking the Filipino’s right arm and trapping it against his chest. With Eustaquio unable to properly guard his neck, Tauru masterfully locked in the rear naked choke and forced the tap.
“That fight went exactly how I saw it in my mind,” he says. “I was prepared to fight a whole there rounds, but if everything goes as I plan it, that is how it goes.”
“Dynamite” moves his record to 10-5-1. The Baguio City warrior drops to 8-5.
Team Lakay veteran fighter Honorio “The Rock” Banario (11-6) continues his impressive career resurgence with another satisfying victory inside the ONE Championship cage, finishing off Rajinder “Knockout” Singh Meena (8-3) of India via armbar in the very first round.
The two stood across each other at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, Friday, 2 December, in a three-round lightweight contest.
Banario, who had shown steady improvement after a disappointing five-fight losing streak, has now won three in a row over solid opposition. Against Vaughn Donayre and Eddie Ng, Banario showcased a tremendous improvement in his grappling. Against Singh Meena, the evolution of Banario came full circle.
Banario not only dominated the striking exchanges at the center of the cage, he also completely outclassed Singh Meena on the ground.
“I feel very happy this time because when I came up to the lightweight division, I felt very comfortable and strong,” said Banario after the bout. “I am hoping to keep winning now so I can stay on track.”
Singh Meena, who owns five submissions out of eight victories, is known as a capable grappling competitor, but against Banario, he was simply no match.
In the middle of the round, Banario smoothly transitioned into a mounted crucifix that left Singh Meena with nowhere to go. From there, Banario effortlessly stepped over his opponent’s head and spun around swiftly to secure the armbar.
The tap came just seconds after. The official finish is listed at 4:04 of the very first round.
Prior to the matchup, Banario — the former ONE Featherweight World Champion — made it known that a move to lightweight was the best thing to happen to his career because he now feels a lot stronger and more confident in his abilities. It definitely showed Friday night.
After the bout, Banario expressed gratitude for all the fans in Manila who followed his career throughout the years.
“Everyone who is here watching, thank you to all,” said Banario. “This is an early Christmas gift for me.”
With Banario’s re-emergence as a lightweight powerhouse, his transformation as a reinvented fighter is complete. Look for Banario to be back at the top of the heap very soon.
A patient Leandro Ataides struck suddenly with thunder with six seconds left in the second round of his middleweight ONE contest against Mohamed Ali to win by flying knee KO. The bout took place at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION at Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena on Friday, 2 December”
The victory allowed Ataides to snap a three-fight losing streak on his daughter’s birthday, in a bout he had dedicated to his sister who died tragically earlier this year.
“I dedicated this fight to my sister,” said Ataides emotionally after the bout. “She passed away, but I know wherever she is, she watches over me, and now I can say, ‘look at me, I did great’. I do my best for her and my family.”
The first round saw both men stay largely out of range, firing and mostly missing with powerful strikes. Early on, Ali caught a kick of the Brazilian’s to score a takedown, but Ataides was quick to pop back up to his feet.
With under a minute left in the round, it was Ataides’ turn to take things to the mat, as he shot in and scored with a double-leg takedown. Ali held on for a while with double overhooks from underneath in his own half guard, and then managed to get back to his feet.
In the second round, Ataides once again found himself momentarily on his seat after kicking and taking a punch to the head at the same time. Once more, however, he quickly regained his footing and soon wobbled Ali with a right punch after Ali missed with a knee strike.
Ataides did not pounce on the hurt Ali, deciding instead to stay patient and tactical. Ali got back on more solid footing eventually, but soon absorbed a few left hooks to the head as Ataides began to stalk him, leaning on his lead leg heavily, and walked the Egyptian back into the fence.
After a one-two punch combination from Ataides, he began to pick up the volume of his strikes. It was a pause, however, that set up a flying knee strike from the Brazilian to the head of Ali, who was backed against the cage.
The knee connected and immediately slumped Ali to the mat. The end came at 4:54 of the second round.
Ataides screamed in celebration before leaping onto the top of the cage, standing and raising his arms in victory. The win improves his record to 9-3. Ali’s defeat is his third straight, and drops his career mark to 10-11.
Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly made his home nation proud on Friday Night, 2 December, when he finished “The Terminator” Sunoto in the third round via strikes at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, held at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
“It is very satisfying. Even though I was a little frustrated in the first round, in my mind, I felt I would knock him out,” the 32-year-old wushu specialist says. “He is a good fighter. He trained hard for our fight, and I am glad I got the win.”
Following a brief exchange, Sunoto wrestled “The Ferocious” to the canvas and methodically worked the rear-naked choke. He got the back, slowly hooked his legs over Kelly’s body, and re-positioned his legs into a figure-four before attempting to slide his arms under the hometown hero’s chin.
The Team Lakay standout read the scenario perfectly, wisely defending it by tying up Sunoto’s free arm. Somwhow, Kelly was able to roll into the Jakarta, Indonesia, native and reversed course, eventually ending the round with a guillotine choke attempt that never seemed to threaten the Indonesian grappling wiz.
In the second round, the Filipino clinched Sunoto against the cage and effectively flung a plethora of hard knees to his thighs. “The Terminator” had enough, however, and burst forward with a takedown.
Perhaps frustrated by Kelly’s much improved submission defense, Sunoto tried to transition to a better position, but that allowed “The Ferocious” to reverse his Jakarta nemesis and land in side control, where he tried sinking in a modified rear-naked choke. Sunoto escaped and the stanza ended with both fighters acting tentatively on the feet.
Although Kelly returned to his clinch and knee attack in the third round, he changed the destiny of the bout when he threw a perfectly timed kick into the head of a ducking Sunoto, who instantly collapsed to the cage floor. “The Ferocious” then lived up to his nickname by jumping onto his opponent, entered full mount, and rained blows on his opponent until the ref called the bout.
“In the first round, I felt my strikes were not hitting him and I was a little frustrated. I got tense because my game plan was not going to what I had planned,” Kelly admits, recalling his thought process during the fight.
“For sure, in my mind, I thought he would be out of breath in the second or third round. He would be tired, and that is when I would have the advantage because of my high intensity training”
The Baguio City is headed swiftly up the divisional ladder. The hometown hero improves to 9-3 and rides a three-fight win streak, while Sunoto falls to 5-3.
Team Lakay flyweight prospect Danny Kingad of Baguio City put together a complete performance against enigmatic striker Eugene Toquero of Manila, winning via armbar submission with less than a minute left in the first round.
The pair locked horns at the center of the ONE Championship cage at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, which took place Friday night, 2 December, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Kingad, who is coming off a scintillating knockout victory over Malaysia’s Muhammad Haidar last April, showcased his elite wushu striking skills and high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Toquero, known for his fast-paced, thunderous striking chops, failed to get his offense going against Kingad, who utilized his distance very well. Kingad attacked Toquero from the outside with a series of kicks and well-placed punch combinations.
On the ground, Kingad effortlessly transitioned from one dominant position to another, stifling Toquero who simply appeared a class lower than the Baguio City native.
Latching onto Toquero’s right arm, Kingad swiftly stepped over and locked in a deep armbar attempt, hyperextending Toquero’s arm as the Manila-based fighter’s face contorted in pain. Toquero was left with no choice but to tap out.
The end came officially at the 4:26 mark of the very first round.
It was a complete performance from Kingad, who at 21-years old has shown maturity inside the ONE Championship cage well beyond his years. Toquero, nearly 15 years Kingad’s senior, possessed the experience inside the cage, but it was Kingad’s promising talent that shined.
With the victory, Kingad improves his record to a perfect 4-0 to remain unbeaten as a professional mixed martial artist, while Toquero drops to 8-4.
Judo black belt Jenny Huang stayed undefeated with an impressive gogoplata submission win over April Osenio in their women’s atomweight ONE contest. The bout took place on Friday, 2 December, at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION in the Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena.
Huang finished the bout late in the second round, but had her hands full earlier in the bout with the hometown hero Osenio.
In the first round Osenio came out of the gates light on her feet and dominated a stiff and immobile Huang with kicks and punches to the body and head. Two left high kicks in particular from Osenio stunned Huang badly.
Huang recovered enough to score an outside leg trip takedown two minutes into the round and landed strikes from inside the active full-guard of Osenio, but soon found herself trapped in a guillotine choke. For a while, the choke appeared to be sunk in deep below her chin, but Osenio eventually popped her head out and regained her footing.
The second round began with two minutes of both women feinting and stalking one another, feeling things out before Huang scored a hip toss takedown and landed flush in side control. From there, the Taiwanese MMA pioneer took Osenio’s back with both hooks in and dominated the rest of the round, transitioning from the back to mount, back again, and eventually side control once more.
Osenio eventually escaped and reversed positions, but Huang smoothly transitioned to an omoplata shoulder lock, hitting an angle and appearing close to finishing. Osenio squared-up with Huang to take pressure off the shoulder, but that was when Huang switched to a gogoplata choke, forcing the submission tap-out.
The end came at 4:28 of the second round. The submission victory is Huang’s third in five pro fights, and is the first-ever gogoplata victory in ONE Championship history.
Osenio’s record dips to 2-2 with the loss, while Huang’s mark improves to 5-0. On whether She thinks the win earned her a shot at Angela Lee’s world championship belt, Huang was hesitant.
“I don’t have that thinking right now for the championship,” said the undefeated Huang. “I am thinking about every bout right now to give me more practice and more experience to move on to the next time, and when the time is right, then the championship.”
It was a clash of styles, but Sim Bunsrun earned a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over knockout artist Liu Peng Shuai at the Mall Of Asia Arena on Friday Night, 2 December, at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION.
“I am really happy I won. I did not expect to win tonight because I know Chinese fighters are really strong and have a lot of support for training,” the 23-year-old Cambodian admits. “Their training facility is high-tech compared to what I am used to, so I went in not expecting to win this way. But I am happy to win for Cambodia.”
Both combatants were tentative in the opening stanza. Although Liu would get the better of the stand-up and avoid Bunsrun’s initial takedown attempts, the Cambodian was able latch onto the Chinese prospect, exchange clinch knees against the fence, and then finally, tipped him to the ground.
Liu immediately tied his opponent’s arms up and went for a guillotine choke, but Bunsrun fought out of it and threw some elbows from top position.
The Chinese prospect was able to dodge the Cambodian’s attacks in the second round and unloaded more of his accurate pinpoint strikes, but after a brief injury timeout, Bunsrun mastered his timing and perfectly scooped the ONE Hefei Flyweight Tournament Champion down into the canvas.
Though not a submission expert by any means, the Beijing gladiator worked a high guard, which led to various triangle and armbar attempts, but to no avail. This match would go to a third round.
Much like the previous two rounds, the third started quite methodically with a feeling out stage. Soon, the match was back to the ground, but Liu pulled an incredibly tight armbar Bunsrun could not seemingly break out of.
The KWC 3 Flyweight Tournament Champion tried punching his way out and even kneed his opponent, but he was finally able to wiggle and pull his arm free. Though Liu marched forward more aggressively in the last thirty seconds, it did not matter, as Bunsrun did enough to secure the nod.
“In the third round, I was in a lot of danger. It felt like my arm was going to break,” Bunsrun explains. “But I just reminded myself that I need to bring the ONE Championship medal back home for my country. My arm is hurting right now. It is nearly broken.”
Liu felt the effects of the fight too, as he was seen backstage with a bag of ice over his left hand.
“I stubbed my finger during the fight and may have sprained my knuckle,” said Liu (4-2). “I am not really good on the ground and do not have a lot of experience with jiujitsu. It is not my comfort zone.” If he had held on to his opponent’s arm for a few more seconds, the result might have been different.
With the victory, Bunsrun improves his record to an even 3-3, and extends his now three-fight win streak.
Chinese bantamweight prospect Xie Bin took on Jakarta, Indonesia’s Mario Satya Wirawan in an energetic matchup between two up-and-coming young stars.
The two stepped inside the ONE Championship cage in a three-round contest at ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, which took place Friday evening, 2 December, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Wirawan, who co-holds the record of fastest knockout victory in ONE Championship with a six-second demolition of Cambodian fighter Chan Heng, was expected to give another high-caliber performance. But it was Xie who ended up earning the hard-fought unanimous decision.
Xie dominated Wirawan from start to finish, both in the striking and grappling department.
The Chinese fighter showcased tremendous improvement in all-around skills, tagging Wirawan with overhand rights and stinging jabs. On the ground, Xie also scored a near-finish in the second round with a deep guillotine choke.
The third round saw much of the same action as Xie put the finishing touches on Wirawan, who just seemed to be out of sync the entire match.
In the end, all three judges saw it in favor of Xie, who improves his record to 2-2 while Wirawan falls to 5-5.
“I improved from the last round, I am happy about that,” said Xie after the bout. “I was more aggressive this time, and I did not back up from anything.”
It was a great showcase of the current level of Chinese MMA at this stage. Since the sport’s rise in Asia, more and more local homegrown MMA talents have arisen around Asia. Count Xie Bin among the most promising.
Wirawan came into the bout with a solid reputation as a bonafide finisher, however, Xie nullified most of his offense and executed an intelligent game plan to get the nod.
While Xie will now look forward to more high-profile bouts, Wirawan heads back to the drawing board and will try to figure out how he can get himself out of his most recent funk.
(Courtesy of ONE FC)
By: Roberto Villa
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