Despite being riddled with pre-fight incidents, ONE: Spirit of Champions is definitely delivers, complete with quick finishes, upsets, and fighters standing toe-to-toe trading leather with nothing to lose.
On the main event, Vera (14-7) becomes the inaugural ONE Championship heavyweight titleholder by defeating last minute replacement Paul Cheng (5-2). Vera tagged Cheng with a left hook counter to drop the Canadian, then followed up with a left head kick to knock Cheng out to end the fight in 26 seconds.
But not all last-minute replacement are easy prey and provide an exciting bout instead. Reece McLaren (8-3), who took the fight on an 8-day notice, scored an upset win against Mark Striegl (14-3). After getting dominated by Striegl for 2 rounds, which includes surviving a soccer kick McLaren came out with nothing to lose on the third stanza, stunning the Filipino-American with an elbow strike, then dominate for the rest of the round with his ground and pound before finishing Striegl with a rear naked choke.
The fight between Eugene Toquero (8-2) and Li Wei Bin (3-1) was the barnburner of the night, with both fighters coming out of the gates guns blazing, exchanging blows and reversing positions for the majority of the first round until Toquero gains advantage on the second round, closing it with ground and pound from back control as the round ends, prompting Li unable to answer the bell for the third round.
Irina Mazepa (2-0) returned to ONE Championship cage to dominate Ana Julaton (2-2) en route to the only decision for the night. After focusing on her ground game leading to the fight, Julaton tried to wrestle Mazepa for 2 rounds, which proved to be ineffective as the St. Petersburg native defended most of Julaton’s takedown attempts and landed hard shots as she disengaged from clinch. Sensing the urgency on the third round, the boxing champion decide to revert back to boxing, only to be outclassed in her own game as well.
Finally, the Lee siblings had a reason to celebrate, with the younger Christian Lee (1-0) winning his professional MMA debut against David Meak (2-5) in 29 seconds, while the elder Lee had to fought harder for the win against Lena Tkhorevska, taking hard shots and facing solid submission defense from the Ukranian which took her past the opening round for the first time in her career before securing a rear naked choke in round 2.
Following are the full results from ONE: Spirit of Champions:
ONE Heavyweight Title bout: Brandon Vera def Paul Cheng by KO at R1 (0:26)
Reece McLaren def Mark Striegl by TKO (Ground Strikes) at R3 (3:33)
Eugene Toquero def Li Wei Bin by TKO (Retire) at R2 (5:00)
Irina Mazepa def Ana Julaton by Unanimous Decision
Angela Lee def Lena Tkhorevska by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at R2 (3:26)
Bruno Pucci def Anthony Engelen by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at R2 (2:19)
Alex Silva def Ruel Catalan R1 Submission (Kneebar) at R1 (3:53)
Christian Lee def David Meak via TKO (Punches) at R1 (0:29)
RIZIN Fighting World Grand Prix 2017: 1st Round Results
The first day of RIZIN FF action is in the books after a action packed yet bizarre night/morning of fights. We now have the semi finalists of the bantamweight GP which will take place on the stacked New Years Eve card. The card displayed plenty of Japanese MMA talent, 3 of which are in the semi finals of the bantamweight GP. The undercard featured plenty of close fights including upsets over Reina Miura and Anthony Birchak. The full results are as follows:
Kyoji Horiguchi def. Gabriel Oliveira via TKO (punches) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket A)
Manel Kape def. Ian McCall via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket A)
Shintaro Ishiwatari def. Kevin Petshi via knockout (punch) – Round 1 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket B)
Takafumi Otsuka def. Khalid Taha via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3 – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal (bracket B)
Jiri Prochazka def. Karl Albrektsson via TKO (punches) – Round 1
Cindy Dandois def. Reina Miura via split decision
Jae Hoon Moon def. Anthony Birchak via split decision – bantamweight grand prix quarterfinal reserve bout
Kai Asakura def. Kizaemon Saiga via TKO (punches, knee) – Round 2
Kana Watanabe def. Shizuka Sugiyama via unanimous decision
Kiichi Kunimoto def. Satoru Kitaoka via unanimous decision
Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship
28 Years Old, Zhang Weili(16-1) from China has challenged Strawweight champion Angela Lee for her strap in One Championship according to a source close to the Chinese fighter. Zhang who is the champion and fighting for Chinese based promotion Kunlun FC is currently negotiating on a one fight deal to face Angela. According to the source, they would like to determine who is the best women fighter in Asia in a one-off match and would have no problems to fight under the One Championship banner.
Since her pro debut loss in 2013, Zhang has racked up 16 wins in 3 years with a total of 15 finishes. She is the number #6 ranked women strawweight in the World according to Fightmatrix.com, just behind Rose Namajunas who will be facing UFC champion and number #1 ranked strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next month. Angela, on the other hand, is 9 rungs below Zhang at number 15.
While ONE was very eager to have a cross-promotion fight between Angela Lee and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to determine who has the better strawweight, they seem less eager to have a Kunlun FC champion on board for a one fight deal. The source states that ONE would need for Zhang to sign a 2-year exclusive contract first before discussing further for a fight with Angela.
If the source is accurate, ONE seems to be covering their bases this time and would not like for their champion to lose the belt to another promotion without securing Zhang on an exclusive contract. Kunlun, on the other hand, would also not want to lose their best fighter to another Asian promotion. Zhang would be a huge asset to ONE for their expansion in China but it would be tough for them to pry off the Chinese fighter as the source states that Zhang is being paid handsomely on Kunlun FC.
While things are looking bleak for a match between Angela Lee and Zhang Weili to happen in the ONE Championship cage, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hope that they could witness a fight between two of the best women Strawweights in Asia.
Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship
After speculations on who Martin Nguyen’s next opponent when he signed a fight contract, ONE Championship have confirmed that Martin Nguyen is set to challenge Eduard Folayang’s lightweight title in Manila on ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November.
The fight is the latest in a series of cross-division fights announced after Shinya Aoki vs Ben Askren and Aung La NSang vs Alain Ngalani, but this will be the first time the reigning ONE Championship titleholders from two weight divisions will clash.
Nguyen’s coach, Fari Salievski, did tease on the idea of Nguyen fighting for the title in different weight divisions , but he teased on a bantamweight division since Martin was underweight for his featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.
Despite being on the lighter side of a featherweight division, the new champion decided to challenge the title against a fighter a weight class above him, and opens the possibility of the first fighter in ONE Championship to challenge the title in 3 weight divisions.
“I’m not out only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner” – Martin Nguyen
ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD will be held in Malls of Asia Arena in Manila on 10 November 2017
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