11 November 2016 – Singapore: Eduard “Landslide” Folayang made history on Friday Night, 11 November. He accomplished what many thought he could not do. It was a fairy tale ending to a story that began with Folayang growing up through poverty, headlining ONE’s first ever show, and claiming a world championship five years later.

The Filipino underdog marched into the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and in front of a sold-out crowd, delivered a TKO to the legendary Shinya Aoki to claim the ONE Lightweight World Championship.

Folayang, still buzzing from his title win, expressed his feelings backstage after the monumental moment. 

“It feels good after a long journey,” he explains, proudly. “It is just like what I said, this is my time and I proved it.”

Aoki fearlessly ran through Folayang’s punches, latched onto him and scored the takedown just seconds into the opening stanza. The Filipino avoided Aoki’s transitions, but as he tried getting back to his feet, “Tobikan Judan” jumped onto his back, locked in a body triangle, and began working for the rear-naked choke. With two minutes left in the round, “The Landslide” slid out and got back to his feet.

However, the Japanese lightweight kept up his hectic pace, eating a knee on his way to a body lock, and secured another takedown. Folayang pushed him away with his powerful legs, but as he returned to his stance, Aoki held him against the cage and swept his legs out from under him to end the round.

The next five minutes told a different story.

It was more of a stand-up duel, with Folayang coming close to connecting with a fierce roundhouse kick and spinning backfist. Action resumed instantly following an accidental eye poke and after a tentative moment, “Landslide” darted at the champ with a flying knee.

“Tobikan Judan” had it well scouted as he caught part of it and slammed him down. Though Aoki spent time in his guard, Folayang was able to escape. In the final minute of the second round, Folayang saw an opportunity and unloaded with an onslaught of kicks, punches, and solid knees to the Japanese native’s body.

It all came to a head in the third round.

Aoki immediately rushed at Folayang’s legs, but a perfectly-timed knee stopped him in his tracks. The legend fell to his knees as “Landslide” stood over him and dropped a nonstop melee of punches. 

With “Tobikan Judan” unable to intelligently defend himself, the referee called the fight, awarding the Filipino challenger both the bout and the prestigious ONE Lightweight World Championship.

Folayang may be the champ, but now he has to defend it against a list of contenders who want their shot at the gold, not including Aoki who will most certainly ask for a rematch. But that is in the future. Tonight, “Landslide” will celebrate and breathe easy.

“For now, I just go home and take some rest,” the new champ says with a smile. “After that, I’ll see whatever happens next.”

The Filipino now holds a 17-5 record with a three-fight win streak. As for Aoki, the fallen legend, he drops to 39-7 with a no contest.

ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov successfully defended his title against challenger and former champion Narantungalag “Tungaa” Jadambaa of Mongolia in the co-main event of ONE: DEFENDING HONOR. The bout took place Friday night, 11 November, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The champion gave the performance of a lifetime, beating Jadambaa with ease to win via rear-naked choke at 4:50 of the first round, delighting the crowd with an exciting finish.

It was the champion’s second title defense after taking the belt from Jadambaa a year ago.

Jadambaa, who was well aware of Gafurov’s string of rear-naked choke victories, tried his best to keep Gafurov from taking the fight to the ground.

After a brief exchange of strikes however, action quickly went to the mat when Jadambaa missed a kick and fell to the canvas. Gafurov followed the Mongolian down and that’s where he worked his Brazilian jiu-jitsu magic. 

Jadambaa was able to defend for a few moments, but once Gafurov re-established himself, the choke came easier. The end came swiftly as Jadambaa was caught in a precarious situation with no choice but to fall asleep, having refused to tap out.

It was a huge difference from their first encounter, when Gafurov had to dig deep after getting rocked by Jadambaa’s power shots. This time, Gafurov played right into his strengths, wasting no time foolishly trying to test his striking against a tough challenger.

The rematch showcased once again Gafurov’s technical grappling brilliance. At this stage in his career, Gafurov is finding it more and more difficult to find a good challenge. The Russian champion then expressed his interest to make a run at the ONE Lightweight World Championship in the post-fight interview.

With the victory, Gafurov improves his overall record to a perfect 15-0, notching his sixth straight rear-naked choke victory for a probable world record, while Jadambaa falls to 12-5.

Lightweight kickboxing ace Amir Khan flipped the script and relied on his grappling ability to beat Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Vaughn Donayre on Friday, 11 November, in his native Singapore at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR.

Khan used takedowns, submission defense, and his own ground attack to take the lead, survive, and then finish Donayre in the third round.

The end came via rear-naked choke submission for Khan at 2:38 of the third round inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium. To get to that spot, however, Khan had to survive his own submission scare in the second round at the hands of Donayre, who fought on just two weeks’ notice in replacement of Samir Mrabet.

“Almost all of my training partners are [BJJ] black belts, so I’ve been grappling with them two or three times a day,” said Khan of pulling off the victory against a BJJ champion. I’ve trained with Shinya Aoki, so I was not worried about his grappling capability. 

“But in the first round, I looked for that choke too hard, and kind of burned out my arm. I had to dig deep and just push through it and managed to get a finish.

In the first, Khan worked the fight to the ground and took Donayre’s back, threatening with choke attempts. Donayre defended well and was saved by the bell to close the period.

In the second, Khan caught a right kick from Donayre, scored a takedown and once more took the back-mount.

Donayre defended, and the two men traded takedowns and top positions before Donayre locked in a Kimura shoulder lock from the side-mount and then from the I-position.

The painful hold was in deep, with Khan’s head boxed-in by Donayre’s kneeling legs and his arm torqued behind his own back. Still, Khan refused to submit, even after Donayre switched to a straight arm lock, and eventually reversed positions and ended the round on top.

In the third, Khan once more worked to top position on the ground, forcing Donayre to his full-guard against the fence. Donayre angled-off the fence and began to unload with punches and elbows from his back.

Khan absorbed some shots, but used the opportunity to advance, first to half-guard, and then to the back-mount once more. This time, the Singaporean was able to finish the job, locking in a rear-naked choke and forcing the tap-out submission from Donayre.

Afterwards, Khan recounted his thoughts while trapped in Donayre’s deep shoulder lock during the second round, and explained why he did not submit.

“I said to myself, I’d rather die than submit on my home soil,” the proud Evolve MMA product declared.

With the win, Khan improves his record to 6-2. Donayre’s defeat drops his to 8-6. When asked about his future plans, Khan already had a possible opponent in mind.

“I always want to fight better opponents. This time, I stepped up my game and fought someone with much more experience,” said Khan. “He fought Honorio Banario, a former title holder. 

“I don’t know. Maybe I fight Honorio Banario [too]. Whoever it is, I want to fight top contenders, rest up, feel well, train smart again, and be ready to go.”

Michelle Nicolini made quick work of Mona Samir at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR.

Nicolini, an eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, dominated the Cairo, Egypt, native in-front of a packed crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday Night, 11 November, and submitted her via rear-naked choke at 2:16 of the first round.

“You know, in my previous fights, I used to be very nervous. I used to step into the cage and [I was] shaking,” Nicolini admits. “But I think our teamwork was working so good and I felt, just now, I was so confident I would win. 

“A very positive vibe was coming to me from the guys (at Evolve MMA), and I feel great going out there and fighting.

The Brazilian strawweight, who trains at Evolve MMA, marched forward and exchanged a few shots with the Egyptian Top Team product before latching onto her and taking her down.

For Samir, an Egyptian wrestling champion, it was all downhill from there.

Step by step, Nicolini slowly worked in the rear-naked choke and tightened up her body with every single advancement. Though Samir desperately tried fending her off, it was no use. 

The BJJ black belt flattened her out and slid one arm under her chin, which immediately caused the Egyptian to tap.

“I want to fight more,” the Brazilian says. “This was my first fight here [in ONE] and I want to fight many other times here. I want to get the belt in my weight class.”

Nicolini has her eyes on the prize. She is successful in her ONE Championship debut and pushes her record to 3-1. Samir drops to 1-3 and remains winless in the organization.

Lightweight veterans Roger “El Matador” Huerta of the United States and Adrian “The Hunter” Pang of Brisbane, Australia, went toe-to-toe in an action-packed lightweight contest at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR, which took place Friday evening, 11 November, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Both fighters turned in great performances, but it was Huerta who did just enough to notch the hard-fought victory via split decision.

It was a terrific showing from both fighters who came to fight as soon as the bell sounded. Neither Huerta nor Pang wanted any lulls in the action, blasting each other with strikes at the center of the ONE Championship cage.

The first round saw Huerta own the edge in accuracy and speed, plastering Pang with pinpoint punch combinations while going to work on the Australian’s legs. Pang countered with his straight right hand, which landed with tremendous force.

While Huerta landed the cleaner blows, it was clear Pang owned the edge in power and sheer brute strength. Huerta’s game plan was to keep Pang at bay by striking from range and being constantly on the move, and it was working.

However, action picked up when Huerta began to tire towards the end of the bout and Pang continued to stalk forward, looking for a finish. Huerta used his experience to move brilliantly away from Pang’s power shots, slipping and sliding away from most of the Australian’s attacks.

The fight was a crowd-pleasing affair, as both fighters tried their best to finish the fight. In the end, it was as close on the cards as could be with one judge scoring in favor of Pang, while the other two felt Huerta earned the victory.

With the win, Huerta improves his record to 23-9-1, 1NC while Pang drops to 22-10-2.

It was a great effort from Huerta who in his last bout was badly defeated by lightweight standout Ariel Sexton.

“It was a win that was much needed. it was a mental win. I’ve been doing this for quite some time,” said Huerta, relieved. “I was on the winning end a lot before, and obviously Asia has been interesting, just a lot of ups and downs with my career. 

“But we were able to get the job done, not the way I kind of wanted. There were a lot of opportunities for finishes I could’ve capitalized on, but I didn’t really get there, so happy with that, but disappointed with my performance.”

Having been on a two-fight skid prior to the bout, Huerta’s back was against the wall after an illustrious career. However, he feels vindicated after the win, and his improved showing might signal a resurgence for the famed veteran. And as it turns out, he did it despite breaking his thumb during the fight. 

”[The break] either happened late in the second round or the beginning of the third. I broke my thumb and I couldn’t really do much more, so I mean, I threw it out there, but it was just pain,” recalled Huerta. 

“But as for the grappling aspect, when I went down for the takedown attempts, he was able to stuff them easier because I wasn’t able to get ahold of [my hands]. So I just kind of tried to pepper him here and there, but man, I felt like he was just made of bricks. he’s a brick wall.

“[A resurgence] is possible, yes. I definitely have to go back to the drawing board, fix the mistakes I made in this event, and just get back into training and getting healthy and get on to the next.”

Featherweight Timofey Nastyukhin gritted through a grizzly injury to his right leg to survive the first round of his ONE: DEFENDING HONOR contest against Kotetsu Boku on 11 November in Singapore. However, the game Russian was not allowed to continue fighting into the second round. 

The night started out well for Nastyukhin as he used sharp striking to inflict damage upon his Japanese opponent.

After landing a low right roundhouse kick to the lead leg of Boku, however, Nastyukhin’s own right leg buckled upon being re-planted on the ONE mat. “No Face” pounced, scoring a right hand to the head and Nastykhin fell to the ground.

As the injured 26-year-old absorbed strikes from his back while floored, it appeared as though he would not last much longer. He mustered enough resolve to sit up and put Boku on his back, however, before getting reversed.

From there, Boku stuck a crucifix position from side-mount and scored more strikes. Impossibly, Nastyukhin made it to his feet several more times, seemingly on just one leg, but could do nothing to stop Boku’s offense of knees to the head and legs.

The Russian fell, again, his back now against the chain fence, his injured right leg splayed straight out, with Boku raining down more shots. Still, Nastyukhin refused to give in and latched onto Boku with defensive double underhooks, even while mounted, to make it out of the round.

That is as far as he could go, though, and the fight was rightly stopped before the second round, giving Boku the TKO victory due to injury. At nearly 40 years of age, the accomplished veteran out of the Krazy Bee gym improved his record to 25-11-2, while Nastyukhin’s mark dipped to 10-3.

Tiffany Teo was relentless in her pursuit of victory.

On Friday Night, 11 November, in front of a hometown crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the “Soul Crusher” defeated Walaa Abbas at ONE: DEFENDING HONOR via rear-naked choke at 4:15 of the second round.

In the opening stanza, the two exchanged a few strikes before Teo scored a takedown with the body lock. She immediately went to full mount and transitioned into a variety of positions, eventually taking the back and looking for the rear-naked choke.

Abbas, to her credit, held on and escaped to her feet. The two exchanged strikes and, though the Egyptian Top Team product sprawled, the Singaporean stayed determined and scored another takedown. 

She was able to once again transition to the back, put her hooks in, and sank in a rear-naked choke. The Juggernaut Fight Club member even flattened Abbas out and softened her up with punches, but the tough Egyptian proved durable and was able to escape.

Teo kept that drive in the second round. Although she ate a few hard shots, she was able to land a trip takedown, outworked her opponent on the ground, and attempted the rear-naked choke yet again. This time, she would not be denied, as Abbas tapped out.

Though Teo won her ONE Championship debut, she was far from proud of her performance.

“To be honest, this fight was my first fight where the muscles felt so tensed up,” said Teo. “It is my first time feeling this way. Even in my sparring sessions, I did not feel my muscles get this tensed up,” she said in a post-fight interview.

“This is my first time fighting on the big stage. I did not really regulate my emotions that well and I was too nervous. So I am glad I got the submission, but I felt I could have performed better. To be honest, I am not that happy with my performance.”

Still, she got the win and now, the “Soul Crusher” remains undefeated and moves her record to 4-0. Abbas, meanwhile, falls to 2-4.

Previously-unbeaten Singaporean featherweight prospect Benedict Ang experienced the first loss of his career as he went to battle against Pakistani mixed martial artist Ahmed Mujtaba. 

The featherweight matchup lasted the entire three rounds, and Mujtaba was able to earn all three judges’ favor to win by unanimous decision. The bout took place on the undercard of ONE: DEFENDING HONOR at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday night, 11 November.

The first round saw both fighters trading strikes at the center of the cage. The local favorite Ang pressed the action, catching Mujtaba with a couple of solid knees from the clinch while Mujtaba laid back and countered with dirty boxing.

However, neither fighter could establish themselves in terms of damage inflicted, but a calmer and more composed Ang landed the cleaner blows in the opening frame.

Action continued in the second round, with both fighters scoring multiple times with landed shots. Ang continued to land clean strikes, but Mujtaba slowly worked towards the mat. Close to the end of the round, Mujtaba scored a takedown on Ang and quickly took his back, nearly securing a rear naked choke as time ran out.

Mujtaba had his arm underneath Ang’s neck, but the bell rang just in time to save the 20-year-old Singaporean from a submission loss.

Ang regained his composure in the third round, slipping Mujtaba’s punches beautifully, countering with blistering uppercuts and hooks. However, it was Mujtaba who scored on a few more takedowns and appeared in control to finish the fight.

It was a very close contest that could have gone either way. Unfortunately for Ang, the decision was not in his favor as Mujtaba did just enough to earn the victory. With the win, Mujtaba improves his record to 6-0, while Ang drops to 3-1.

Speaking after the loss, Ang said: “It didn’t go my way, but there are a lot of things I could have done better. I enjoyed the whole experience. I’ll take it as it is and come back stronger. I’ll take this as a positive. One loss doesn’t define anything. I’ll come back.”

As for the still-undefeated Pakistani Mujtaba, his ONE debut couldn’t have gone any better.

“Of course, fighting in ONE Championship has always been my dream when I started my career, and by the grace of all my luck, I’m here right now for my debut in ONE FC against a good wrestler, Benedict Ang,” said Mujtaba.

“He fought against Waqar Umar for ONE, another guy from Pakistan, and he won against (Yohan Mulia) Legowo and had a really good fight against (Jimmy) Yabo, so I was pretty sure it was going to be a tough fight for me. 

“Of course, it’s a fight where one has to lose and one has to win, and today I was the better man.”

Flyweight Niko Soe kicked off Friday’s ONE: DEFENDING HONOR event in dynamic fashion, scoring a quick submission victory over Muhamad Haidar in the evening’s opening contest from the Singapore Indoor Stadium. 

Soe showed no hesitation in his ONE debut, charging out from his corner immediately and landing big straight punches to the head of Haidar, prompting the Malaysian to shoot for a takedown.

Haidar hit the double-leg drop but was soon reversed by Soe, who established a heavy top-game inside the half-guard. From there, the 23-year-old used expert timing to pass to full mount and then straight into an armbar attempt.

Haidar gamely defended the hold initially, but a few adjustments from Soe allowed him to fully extend the isolated arm and force Haidar to submit. The impressive win came at 1:17 of the very first round for the Singaporean Soe, who nonetheless seemed dissatisfied with his performance, afterwards.

“He used his strength to try to sneak out a little bit, so I tried to adjust it and make it tighter, and submitted him,” said Soe. “I thought I could do more. I hope I get to fight here again. I’ll try to put on an exciting fight.”

It is doubtless that the ambitious Singaporean will continue to entertain on his next time out. The win improves Soe’s record to 3-1, and Haidar’s loss drops his mark to 0-2.

ONE Championship 49 quick results:

  • Eduard Folayang def. champ Shinya Aoki via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 0:41 – to win lightweight title
  • Champ Marat Gafurov def. Narantungalag Jadambaa via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 4:50 – to retain featherweight title
  • Amir Khan def. Vuaghn Donayre via submission (rear-naked-choke), Round 3, 2:22
  • Michelle Nicolini def. Mona Samir via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 2:16
  • Roger Huerta def. Adrian Pang via split decision
  • Kotetsu Boku def. Timofey Nastyukhin via TKO (Injury), Round 1, 5:00
  • Tiffany Teo def. Walaa Abbas via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:15
  • Ahmed Mujtaba def. Benedict Ang via unanimous decision
  • Nico Soe def. Muhamad Haidar via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:17
Photos /Article Courtesy: ONE FC

By: Roberto Villa