ONE FC: Clash of Heroes — Three wins for Malaysian fighters on the night
It's one of those fights I'd never want to see either one lose badly — a fighter carrying my country's flag versus a Filipino fighter who was one of the first MMA trainers I've ever learnt from back then when he was teaching classes at MuayFit. Even though I'm Malaysian, it felt sad to see the latter Eric Kelly (12-2) being completely dominated by Malaysian-New Zealander Ev Ting (11-3).
Ting was on another level, and besides, who wouldn't be cautious knowing by now that Eric's capable of being outclassed and yet still manages to win in the end? There was clearly no coming back for Eric this time if he wasn't at least up to par with Ting who was very confident and comfortable throughout the main event. Eric was losing in almost every area from the very beginning of the lightweight bout. Ting was immediately explosive, aggressive on standup, landing several damaging knees to Eric's head. Eric climbed onto Ev's back but almost every submission attempt was well defended.
Ting continued to dominate in most of the second round but up to this point, many fans like myself would've thought that Eric could still survive like he always do and find a finish from no where, like he always do as well. He managed to shift a bit of momentum to his side towards the end of the round, gaining advantageous position on the ground in Ting's guard. Despite being at the bottom, Ting remained composed and limited Eric's offence while taking a breather.
In the third round, Eric tried to pick up where he left off by attempting to take Ting down but nothing was troubling Ting on this night. While Eric was hanging on to a single leg, Ting wrapped his other leg around Eric and executed an unusual guillotine takedown and it was a perfect one which forced the legendary comeback king to tap out. Ting has done the double on the Kelly brothers (he knocked out Eric's brother Edward in 2014) and when asked what's next, he said, "Marat Gafurov, I'm coming for you! Where the belt at?!" Although he expression went awkward after that, his confidence and quality were evident enough to show that he may be capable of defeating the current champion who submitted him in the very first round when they battled back in May last year. And with that said, our dream of having a Malaysian-born champion is still alive.
Held at Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Clash of Heroes was first ONE Championship event in Malaysia this year. Although it was without Peter Davis, Ann Osman, Gianni Subba — the other popular local fighters — or even a title bout, the card featured four other Malaysia fighters apart from Ting, and two of the four got the victory. Gianni's younger brother Keanu Subba (3-1) took down his fellow countryman Rayner Kinsiong (2-2) and finished him with ground and pound in the very first round. KL boy Agilan Thani (4-0) successfully applied a second-round rear naked choke on Canadian fighter James Kouame (3-7) who's on a losing streak in his career. KL-based Muay Thai fighter Saiful Merican (4-3) got brutally knocked out by Filipino-man Geje Eustaquio's (7-4) soccerkick in just over a minute although Merican got back up to his feat immediately after the fight was stopped.
Sorry, I haven't been blogging much about MMA recently, especially ONE. It was difficult to stay enthusiastically interested and supportive after subsequent controversies (Askren-Santos 2 cancellation, Chi Lewis-Parry's removal from title bout, and Yang Jian Bing's death) in recent months. However, I do like the idea of the new weigh-in program where fighters are now fighting at their normal "walking-weight" (or around that), and hence most fighters are now fighting one weightclass above their usual one. The organisation tend to boast a lot and hardly admitted it when things didn't seem right, but all the fighters looked fresh and healthy like never before on this night.
More importantly for the promotion, this may lessen the possibilities for bout cancellations due to weigh-ins (although I'm not sure how come there were catchweight bouts on the card), allowing ONE to check up with the fighters periodically. And now with most fighters competing in different divisions (while some don't), it'd be interesting to see who'd perform better without cutting (much) weight. It's like a reset and a new ball game (except that the scores are retained). The only one crucial thing that's still missing now for ONE is an external committee of judges.
Official Full Results
Main CardFeatherweight: Ev Ting def. Eric Kelly | Sub. (Mounted Guillotine) | R3 1:58
Lightweight: Eduard Folayang def. Tetsuya Yamada | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Catchweight (95kg): Jake Butler def. Tatsuya Mizuno | TKO (Strikes) | R1 4:30
Catchweight (66.8kg): Geje Eustaquio def. Saiful Merican | KO | R1 1:21
Lightweight: Samir Mrabet def. Sami Amin | Sub. (Head & Arm Choke) | R2 1:31
Lightweight: Keanu Subba def. Rayner Kinsiong | TKO (Strikes) | R1 2:01
Featherweight: Christian Lee def. Mahmoud Mohamed | Sub. (Single-Arm Chicken Wing) | R1 2:20
Preliminary CardMiddleweight: Agilan Thani def. James Kouame | Sub. (Rear Naked Choke) | R2 1:12
Lightweight: Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev def. Mishal Alfad | TKO (Strikes) | R1 0:32
Female catchweight (49kg): Jenny Huang def. Amira Badr | Sub. (Triangle Choke) | R2 3:09
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