ONE FC 18: Bloody epic fight earns Eric Kelly first $50K bonus

Eric Kelly defeats Rob Lisita in ONE FC 18 War of Dragons taiwan 2014

War of Dragons features Eric Kelly in dramatic win against Rob Lisita, arguably the best fight in ONE FC history thus far


The highly anticipated return of Eric Kelly (11 - 1) was worth the 18-month wait. After losing to Honorio Banario for the inaugural ONE FC World Featherweight Championship, he promised to take his time to recover from his injury and come back stronger, and he did. The timing could not have been any better, it was the first time ever ONE FC was rewarding a best performance bonus, and Eric's got it. All US$50,000, I believe that would help him and his family a lot. I used to attend Eric's MMA classes at MuayFit a couple of years ago, he's a nice humble hardworker who fights to support his family back home in the Philippines, I had learnt a lot about about MMA from him, and to see him come back and win such a tough opponent was just absolutely delightful.

After Rob Lisita's (14 - 6) very impressive debut in ONE FC 15, most observers labelled Eric Kelly an underdog of this fight, and they weren't exactly wrong. Lisita is very explosive and aggressive, the kind that flat-footed counter-style fighters like Eric would struggle with. Eric had to survive the Australian's onslaught of strikes at the beginning of the bout. I really thought Eric was going to be knocked out but his chin was able to hold up. Lisita was so strong that he could pull Eric down to the ground by just clinching Eric's head, however, that might be Eric's intention to take the fight to ground knowing that he might get knocked out on standup. There was an accidental kick to Lisita's crotch but even the break didn't affect his rhythm. He caught a leg lock but Eric defended well and almost got Lisita's back. He did eventually get his back later on but his rear naked choke attempt wasn't deep enough. Eric threw a few punches before Lisita successfully got back to his feet. And then suddenly before round one ended, it was Eric's turn to land some strikes on standup.

Eric Kelly rear naked choke Rob Lisita in ONE FC 18 War of Dragons taiwan 2014

In the second round, Lisita begun swinging like he's a bit tired but still he managed to get Eric's back while Eric's broken nose, which he probably gotten from the Lisita's strikes in the first round, bleed like a running tap. Lisita fell asleep for a moment, allowing Eric crawl out from underneath. Strangely, Lisita was still sitting there staring blank to the ground. Eric jumped right onto Lisita's back to attempt another choke but as soon as he did that, the referee paused the fight to have Eric's nose checked (yes, it was Yuji Shimada again).

The fight continued at the same position where they left off, but Lisita seemed to have regained his focus and escaped. Eric gave away his back again after getting kicked at the head, it never looked like Eric was going to ever defeat this very tough opponent but a true warrior like Eric Kelly perseveres and doesn't give up. Eric reversed Lisita's advantageous position into his half guard and patiently worked his way to Lisita's back again and this time he was able to trick the exhausted Lisita to give away his neck for a deep choke. Reluctantly, Lisita tapped out. What a roller coaster ride it was. Lisita was very upset with himself, he didn't even want to talk to Eric at first but Eric went to him anyway presumably to console his very tough opponent, which he accepted and hugged Eric.


Co-main event: Koji Ando hands Rafael Nunes first career loss with ease


Former Legend FC Lightweight Champion Koji Ando (10 - 3) defeated Rafael Nunes (10 - 1) in less than two minutes into the bout. It was a ONE FC debut for fighters but it was only Nunes who looked a bit nervous on standup, awkwardly strafing away from Ando's right while Ando kept pressuring forward. When Nunes shot for a takedown, Ando quickly sprawled and impressively turned to the side to execute a deep read naked choke. Nunes had no choice but to tap out. How smooth was that? Oh my, what beautiful move.

Taiwan 3 - 0 on the night, Paul Cheng wins with only an eye


Taiwanese heavyweight Paul Cheng (5 - 1) won his second ONE FC fight after defeating Mahmoud Hassan (1 - 4), but it wasn't a stroll in the park. Cheng's right eye was completely swollen and closed due to Hassan's hard strikes in the first round. He carried on in the second round, looking through with only his left eye, and did very well, reversing a flying knee into a takedown. Both fighters were already exhausted, just as most big men in the ONE FC did around this time of the bout. Cheng got the full mount at one point but he was too burnt out to throw any meaningful punches down. Hassan apparently couldn't stand up in time to begin the final round and the referee waved the fight off, rewarding the home town boy a "verbal submission" win, not sure why, very strange. Hassan is now on a 4-fight losing streak.

Paul Cheng swollen eye vs. Hassan in ONE FC 18 war of dragons taiwan 2014

Both of Cheng's countrymen Sung Ming Yen (3 -  0) and Jeff Huang (4 - 1) were also victorious in their respective fights earlier in the card. It might've even been 4 - 0 if Zhang Zheng Jie (2 - 0) didn't fail his pre-fight medical test. His teammate Eliot Corley (2 - 2) replaced him for this bout and defeated fellow debutant Rayner Kinsiong (2 - 1), Malaysia's only fighter on the night, via TKO early in the first round.

The others fight were highly entertaining as well, and amazingly, none of the bouts went to the judges scorecard. Koetsu Okazaki (10 - 3) had to go through a dominant wrestling and ground game by top bantamweight contender Yusup Saadulaev (12 - 4) in the first round before he got control of Saadulaev's back and punched him till the referee stopped the bout. Jake Butler (4 - 1) got himself back to the winners bracket after defeating ONE FC debutant Mohamed Ali (9 - 7) by surviving Ali's strong counter uppercuts and turned it into a ground fight by using his specialty: wrestling. He got the full mount in the third round and pounded him for the TKO win.

The new Taiwanese ring girl, Emily Chu, is so cute that when she smiled to the camera, I almost melted. And the Christine Hallauer's assets are awesome as always. I think ONE FC has found the right ring girls duo - one hot and sexy, while the other fair and sweet. Good job!

Christine Hallauer and Emily Chu in ONE FC 18 War of Dragons taiwan 2014

Next up, ONE FC 19: Reign of Champions in Dubai on 29 August with four title bouts to be slated into the card. So far two of the four championships bouts have been confirmed: world class grappler Shinya Aoki to defend his lightweight title against Kamal Shalorus, and striker Nobutatsu Suzuki to defend his welterweight belt against the highly rated, undefeated wrestler Ben Askren. Featherweight champ Koji Oishi is expected to face Eric Kelly, and the last one remaining one would for the inaugural middleweight championship. It's the first time that ONE FC will have more than a title bout in single event, four are going to be epic and I just can't wait.

ONE FC: 18: War of Dragons - Official Results


The ONE Warrior Bonus: Eric Kelly

Main Card

Featherweight: Eric Kelly def. Rob Lisita | Submission (rear naked choke) | R2 3:43 mins
Lightweight: Koji Ando def. Rafael Nunes | Submission (rear naked choke) | R1 1:43 mins
Bantamweight: Koetsu Okazaki def. Yusup Saadulaev | TKO (strikes) | R2 4:21 mins
Light Heavyweight: Jake Butler def. Mohamed Ali | TKO (strikes) | R3 1:21 mins
Heavyweight: Paul Cheng def. Mahmoud Hassan | Submission (verbal) | R3 0:00 min
Heavyweight: Chi Lewis Parry def. Alain Ngalani | TKO (strikes) | R1 4:07 mins
Bantamweight: Sung Ming Yen def. Nicholas Lee | Submission (guillotine choke) | R1 1:10 mins

Undercard

Welterweight: Jeff Huang def. Bala Shetty | TKO (strikes) | R1 3:20 mins
Lightweight: Eliot Corley def. Rayner Kinsiong | TKO (strikes) | R1 1:36 mins
Featherweight: Nathan Ng def. Florian Garel | Submission (head & arm choke) | R1 1:23 mins

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