A capacity crowd of 20,000 people were in attendance at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night as ONE FC made another pit-stop in Manila, Philippines for its numbered installment.
ONE FC 15: Rise of Heroes featured multiple new faces but it was the host country’s native fighters who took the spotlight this time around, with no less than five Filipino faces making up the line-up.
The main event saw former DREAM champion Bibiano Fernandes successfully defend his ONE FC 135-lbs title against Shooto veteran, Masakatsu Ueda. The latter, of course, reigned victorious in the promotion’s Bantamweight Grand Prix, earning wins over the likes of Jens Pulver and Kevin Belingon en route to securing his title shot.
Fernandes, meanwhile, was on a stellar run with seven straight victories and was yet to taste defeat in over four years. The odds, understandably, were stacked against Ueda for an upset, with Fernandes heavily touted by the masses to retain his belt.
After a fairly eventful first round, Fernandes established his dominance in the second. He scored more strikes on his feet and succeeded with his renowned grappling game after a takedown. Fernandes garnered more success in the third round, almost finishing the fight with a slick Rear-Naked Choke attempt. His grappling prowess, once again, was on show as he outclassed Ueda on the canvas in the championship frames. After 25 minutes, Fernandes rightly took home a Unanimous Decision nod and retained his crown.
Ueda just seemed second best throughout proceedings. Fernandes fought in the manner which had him a step ahead of his opponent’s methodical approach.
In the co-main event, Lightweights went to war as former ONE FC champion Kotetsu Boku tackled fan favorite, Eduard Folayang. It was Folayang’s improved wrestling pedigree that eventually stifled his Japanese counterpart in the end.
The two fighters were respectful of each other’s striking abilities in the opening stages, and were hesitant in landing shots. But Folayang scored an emphatic takedown midway through the round before capitalizing on a near Armbar submission attempt before the bell rung. Folayang continued to showcase his wrestling skills as he took Boku down several times in the last ten minutes, and kept Boku’s stinging shots at bay by outpointing him through his footwork. Folayang was deservedly awarded a Unanimous Decision victory after three compelling rounds.
Other notable bouts:
Former WBO Boxing champ Ana Julaton had a Mixed Martial Arts debut to savor as she overcame a very tough Egyptian kickboxer in Aya Saeid Saber for a TKO victory. After enjoying the adulation of the crowd the moment she entered the arena, Julaton was made to work hard in the first round as the action kicked off. She was determined to show off her full MMA facet in the opening stages and while she didn’t quite execute a successful takedown, she got the fight down onto the canvas. On their feet, Julaton clearly had the better hands but Saber was connecting well with kicks. Julaton had to further battle adversity in the second stanza following a Guillotine choke attempt from her opponent, but she escaped unscathed from the maneuver and retaliated with several slams and punches from top position. With the crowd planted firmly behind the Filipino fighter’s back heading into the final frame, off a takedown, Julaton maneuvered to full mount before continuously raining punches to force a referee intervention with less than a minute remaining. Pandemonium, of course, resulted in the stands following that exchange.
There were two massive knockouts on Friday night and one of them was courtesy of Phuket Top Team’s James McSweeney. The Brit delivered a knockout for the ages with a highlight reel knee stoppage, as he dispatched Aussie fighter, Chris Lokteff. The bout was contested entirely on stand-up, with Lokteff, perhaps, marginally getting the better of McSweeney early on with his punches. But McSweeney, a former UFC veteran, remained patient with his Muay Thai game. As the round progressed, the 33-year-old backed Lokteff up against the cage with an onslaught of strikes, before finishing the Australian in style with a perfectly timed knee. It was absolutely beautiful yet deadly at the same time.
Rob Lisita and Yusuke Kawanago first met in 2012 under the Legend FC flag with the latter triumphing on that occasion with a decision victory. But Lisita had improved significantly since that outing and had won three-straight, solidifying his status as Australia’s leading 145-pounder. Lisita clearly had revenge on his mind and in fact, did his homework ahead of this highly anticipated rematch. Lisita knew the Japanese fighter was fond of throwing knees and he anticipated it from the get-go, and when Kawanago duly delivered, the Australian countered with a beautifully timed left hook that sent the Japanese fighter crashing onto the canvas. A few punches after that was all she wrote to warrant a referee’s intervention. Rob Lisita is also starting to develop a nag for breaking records. After being only the first fighter to finish Japanese icon ‘Lion’ Takeshi under the REBEL FC flag, it’s well worth noting that Lisita became the first fighter to finish Kawanago via strikes on Friday night.
MMASucka.com’s Top Three Fighters of the Night:
- James McSweeney
- Rob Lisita
- Leandro Ataides
MMASucka.com’s Top Three Fights of the Night:
- James McSweeney vs. Chris Lokteff
- Ana Julaton vs. Aya Saeid Saber
- Rob Lisita vs. Yusuke Kawanago
MMASucka.com’s Top Three Finishes of the Night:
- James McSweeney (Knee)
- Rob Lisita (Punches)
- Leandro Ataides (Punches)
For full ONE FC 15: Rise of Heroes results, click here.