ONE FC: AGE OF CHAMPIONS - Flyweight champ Adriano Moraes retains title but challenger Asuka "Riku Shibuya" Mikami wins the crowd
Clean sweep by Malaysian fighters suggest that they may be ready for real challenges
It was a crowd-pleasing night at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur yesterday where the Malaysian MMA fans were served with an entertaining title bout, a clean sweep by the local fighters and more. Only 3 out of the 8 bouts on the card made it out of the first round and only one went to the judges scorecard, which was the main event title bout that took place before the "Malaysian Warrior Superfights" due to live local TV broadcast arrangement with TV9.
ONE Championship World Flyweight Champion Adriano Moraes (13-1) of Brazil was successful in his first ever title defence but it wasn't easy against ONE debutant Asuka Mikami a.k.a. Riku Shibuya (11-3-2) of Japan. No idea which one's his real name or nickname but this man had certainly won the hearts of many fans last night. Shibuya pressed forward in all 5 rounds of the bout with his slow robotic walk in an awkwardly straight-postured stance in shiny silver shorts. His hands were low all the time and his jab fist was bent like a cat's paw. Despite getting his face badly damaged and being dominated by takedowns and submission attempts, Shibuya just kept walking forward towards Moraes without any sign of fear, like a zombie that just can't be killed. He even gave away his back to Moraes multiple times but he managed to escape every time. I've no idea what Shibuya's game plan was pressing forward the entire time but this was truly amusing, and amazing, to watch.
The crowd was chanting Shibuya's name, cheering him on in support, hoping that the underdog could defeat his rather boring but technical grappler. Although Moraes was frustrated that he could not finish off the stubborn opponent with his superior BJJ skills, he was never going to lose by points. Shibuya did better on standup, landing some punches to the face and good knees to the body, but Moraes practically won in every area. Even when Moraes wasn't losing in a striking exchange, he'd still take Shibuya down to score more points and attempt to submit. Shibuya clearly didn't do enough but if this was a competition where they score survival and escapes more than anything else, he would've won. We may not enjoy Moraes' style of fighting, like how a lot of people don't appreciate GSP fights, but he knows how to win and he totally deserved to win this one.
All 5 fighters representing Malaysia last night won their respective bouts, making it the best Malaysian record on a night in ONE Championship history. It kicked off with MIMMA 2 Welterweight Champion Agilan Thani (2-0) getting the TKO win in the first round after he quickly took down his fellow debutant Reant Fabriza Rainir of Indonesia, got the full mount and swung his punches until the referee finally decided to stop the contest. That fight actually lasted longer than it should. The most spectacular and quickest finish of the night, if not in history, was the 20-second knockout finish by Gianni Subba (5-1) against Thanh Vu (5-4). Subba dropped him with a counter left punch when Vu was attacking and followed up with a soccer kick to the head and then a couple more punches before the referee intervened. This may be Vu's last ONE fight as he has now lost three in a row.
The only Malaysian fighter on the night that needed more than a round to finish was Ev Ting (9-2) as he faced a tougher task compared to the others and probably should've been the co-main event. His opponent, Cary Bullos (7-3) from the Philippines, is a former URCC Bantamweight Champion and he was actually winning in the first round. Ting was the aggressor pushing forward with a striking offence but it was Bullos who's landing the significant strikes. Bullos also defended Ting's takedown attempt seemingly with ease. In Round 2, Ting executed the same game plan but this time it was effective. He landed a big punch, pressed Bullos against the fences, got the underhooks and swept him to the ground. As Bullos was carelessly trying to scramble back to his feet, Ting locked Bullos' neck with a Guillotine Choke while standing and forced Bullos to tap out.
The two Malaysian superstars, Peter Davis and Ann Osman, performed far better than expected with both finishing in under 3 minutes. Ann Osman (3-1) was getting trashed on standup by the bigger Walaa Abbas (2-3) but she responded intelligently by pressing Abbas against the fences before taking her down and transitioned straight to Abbas' back for the rear naked choke that forced Abbas tap out. Peter Davis (10-3) was very impressive as well. His buff Indian opponent Rajinder Singh Meena (8-2) didn't even get to throw a single punch or kick at all during the fight.
Peter's head kick was caught by Meena and using that leg, Meena pulled Peter to the ground. Although Meena was still gripping on to that leg on the ground, Peter's flexibility allowed his to simply stand up with just the other leg of his and while doing that, he locked on Meena's head and circled very quickly to his back. Meena, to defend himself from any rear naked choke attempts, turned his body around but that only gave Peter the full mount position to rain down the ground and pound. Eventually, Peter took control of Meena's right arm wrapped it around its owner's own neck and just kept elbowing the defenceless face of Meena's until the referee has seen enough.
During the post-fight interview, Peter said that he hopes that the ONE Championship will give him a "bigger and stronger opponent" for his next fight. It is indeed time for Peter to face a fighter with better credentials as 3 out of 4 of Peter's last fights were ONE debutants. ONE Championship have successfully created the heroes they need to promote the sport in Malaysia and perhaps it's time to set local fighters like Peter, Subba and Ting on the right path to become true title contenders. Even if they're not at that level yet, they'd still need fight tougher opponents to gain experience and improve. Also, why hasn't Adam Kayoom returned yet? He was Malaysia's one and only title contender until he got injured just days before the inaugural welterweight championship in 2013.
Women's atomweight bout between April Osenio (0-1) of the Philippines and Kirstie Cannaway (2-0) of Singapore was one of the three bouts that made it out of the first round, with the latter winning by rear naked choke submission after a missing the same opportunity in Round 1. Cambodia's Chan Rothana (3-1) defeated ONE debutant Ramon Gonzales (1-1) of the Philippines late in the first round after he worked his way from being leg-locked to a full mount for the TKO win by ground and pound.
Next up, it's ONE FC 26: Valor of Champions in Manila on April 24th which will feature Welterweight champion Ben Askren defending his title against Luis "Sapo" Santos who has a crazy record of 61 wins and 9 losses. As usual, stay tuned for my post-fight review on that!
ONE FC 25: Age of Champions - Results
ONE Warrior Bonus: (not awarded again)
Flyweight Title: Adriano Moraes def. Riku Shibuya | Unanimous Decision | 5 rounds
Lightweight: Peter Davis def. Rajinder Singh Meena | TKO (Strikes) | R1 2:41
Women’s Flyweight: Ann Osman def. Walaa Abbas | Submission (Rear Naked Choke) | R1 2:23
Featherweight: Ev Ting def. Cary Bullos | Submission (Guillotine Choke) | R2 1:05
Flyweight: Gianni Subba def. Thanh Vu | Knockout | R1 0:20
Women’s Atomweight: Kirstie Gannaway def. April Osenio | Submission (RNC) | R2 2:50
Bantamweight: Chan Rothana def. Ramon Gonzales | TKO (Strikes) | R1 4:48
Catchweight (82kg): Agilan Thani def. Reant Fabriza Rainir | TKO (Strikes) | R1 1:21
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