New signing Vitaly Bigdash survives and KO's Igor Svirid for the ONE World Middleweight Championship title
Malaysian heroes Peter Davis and Ann Osman fall in first-round defeats
ONE Championship has produced the best title fights ever in its own history in Kuala Lumpur on October 9th. The new ONE World Middleweight Champion Vitaly Bigdash (8-0) displayed an unbelievable comeback to defeat the now-inaugural former middleweight champ Igor Svirid (10-2) in the title bout of ONE: Tigers of Asia. I was disappointed that the Askren-Santos rematch didn't make it here, but the performances in this fight has definitely compensated for that.
Bigdash managed to get on top of Svirid on the ground after a failed leg lock attempt and right before the end of the first round, Svirid carelessly tried to get back to his feet and got punished by a clean hard knee to the face that cut his forehead and dropped him, exposing him for the rear naked choke. It looked as though he tapped but the bell already rang. After all that action in the first round itself, Svirid may have gassed out a little. But who could blame him for stepping on the pedal when he was so close to finishing the title challenger that many times. In under 40 seconds into the second round, Svirid's sloppiness allowed Bigdash to clinch down his head and delivered another clean knee to the face, followed by a hook punch which knocked out Svirid. The hammerfists after that was probably unnecessary but the referee didn't stop the fight as he had to give the same benefit of the doubt as he did to Bigdash in the first round. What a fight, what a comeback, what a finish. How can this not be rewarded with the ONE Warrior Bonus that was never given again since its introduction back in July 2014? If this didn't impress ONE CEO Victor Cui, I don't know what will.
Anti-climatically, and painfully, this wasn't the last bout of the night. Due to live TV broadcast scheduling and also being in Malaysia, I assumed, the last three bouts of the card were "Malaysia Super Fights" which featured the three top Malaysian world title contenders, and two of them lost. Local superstar Peter Davis (10-4) was finally given a tougher challenge. He was up against former Legend and Cage FC champ Adrian Pang (22-8) and, according to the commentators, he might fight lightweight champ Shinya Aoki for the title if he won this bout, which shocked me when I heard that. Unfortunately, Peter got knocked out almost effortlessly in less than a minute by Pang with not-very-clean heavy counter punches. The followup ground-and-pounds were totally unnecessary. Poor slow stoppage by the referee.
New Zealand-based Malaysian Ev Ting (10-3) bounced back into action after his loss to Marat Gafurov (who's now the interim featherweight champ after easily defeating Martin Nyugen in the previous event which I didn't get to watch) in May and got his victory. His opponent on this night, the inaugural former featherweight champ Honorio Banario (8-6) who hasn't won for a long time, went for a double leg takedown at the start of the bout but it was sloppy and basically just presented Ting with an open and dry guillotine choke window which he applied and got the tap. However, Ting didn't make weight for this supposedly featherweight bout.
The final bout of the card was probably the most agonising one to watch for the hometown fans and ONE itself as Ann Osman (3-2), who's dubbed by ONE as the "pioneer of women's MMA in Asia", got knocked out cold in the first round, too, by K-1 and six-time world Wushu champion Izina Mazepa who was fighting in this particular sport for the first time in her career. Osman's game plan to keep the fight on the ground was punished when a failed takedown attempt ended up at the fences where Mazepa managed to push Osman off the clinch and made just enough space to immediately unleash and land some heavy hook punch combos which dropped Osman. Mazepa followed up with hammerfists on the ground and continued hammering Osman's face even when the referee has stopped the fight. I know Osman's swagger and confidence may come across as arrogance, but boo to Mazepa for the lack of sportsmanship.
Other Malaysian fighters on this card were Gianni Subba (6-1) and MIMMA graduates Keanu Subba (2-1) and Agilan Thani (3-0), all who were victorious in their respective bouts, and Saiful Merican (4-2) won against fellow Malaysian Melvin Yeoh (7-3) via TKO. I thought that Gianni's decision win over Almino Barros (1-1) was questionable as Gianni didn't seem to have done as much compared to his opponent. I will probably need to watch this again.
Delighted to see Filipino star Eric Kelly (12-1) back in the cage after the long hiatus. He defeated Hiroshige Tanaka (10-3) via unanimous decision which the commentators seemed to believe it was controversial, but I thought it was probably justified. Although Tanaka did take Eric down numerous times, and the fact that Eric should've been yellow carded for grabbing the fence too often to prevent being taken down. Tanaka's face was badly damaged by Eric's elbows when Tanaka had Eric's back. Eric was landing more significant strikes on standup too.
ONE: Tigers of Asia - Results
Women's Flyweight: Irina Mazepa def. Ann Osman | TKO (Strikes) | R1 3:05
Featherweight: Ev Ting def. Honorio Banario | Submission (Guillotine Choke) | R1 0:56
Lightweight: Adrian Pang def. Peter Davis | TKO (Strike) | R1 0:48
Middleweight Title: Vitaly Bigdash def. Igor Svirid | TKO (Strikes) | R2 0:36
Featherweight: Eric Kelly def. Hiroshige Tanaka | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Flyweight: Riku Shibuya def. Eugene Toquero | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Bantamweight: Dae Hwan Kim def. Teng Li Ge | Submission (RNC) | R2 4:08
Flyweight: Gianni Subba def. Almiro Barros | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Featherweight: Keanu Subba def. Florian Garel | TKO (Strikes) | R1 4:51
Bantamweight: Saiful Merican def. Melvin Yeoh | TKO (Strikes) | R2 1:10
Welterweight: Agilan Thani def. Hisham Hiba | Submission (RNC) | R1 3:05
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