By Thinesh John Ganesan
On a night where only 2 fights went the distance, ONE FC 3: War of the Lions’ stacked card did not disappoint one bit.
Although the likes of Masakazu Imanari, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Melvin Manhoef were scheduled to compete, that didn’t stop the sold-out crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from complete elation, when they witnessed their very own home girl Nicole Chua pick up a win, after she submitted a very resilient Jeet Toshi. Pandemonium erupted from the stands, after the country witnessed their first ever female professional MMA fighter win.
Furthermore, that bout also marked the first taste of Women’s MMA in ONE Fighting Championship.
However, from the highs, the night also provided some lows. Not from a neutral’s perspective, though.
Yodsanan Sityodtong, who perhaps received the largest ovation of the night, did not manage to put his world-class Boxing and Muay-Thai skills to good use, as his much less-favoured opponent Jiang Long Yun submitted him via Rear Naked Choke. Northern Tiger’s submission win silenced the crowd for a moment or two.
Along with Lenne Hardt’s vintage announcing, and having Jason Chambers serve as a colour commentator alongside Sportscentre’s Steve Dawson, One Fighting Championship and CEO Victor Cui may have just put on their best fight card yet.
Here’s a complete breakdown and analysis of what went down at the Singapore Indoor Stadium:
Richie Whitson vs. Danny Van Bergen (Van Bergen wins by submission – Arm bar)
Arguably the favourite heading into this fight, former TUF veteran Richie ‘Hell Boy’ Whitson succumbed to an arm-bar by the Netherland’s Danny Van Bergen. Van Bergen, who trains out of the renowned Mike’s Gym, upset the odds when he made his opponent tap out at 1:19s of the very first round.
Whitson has now suffered back-to-back submission defeats following his Rear Naked Choke loss at last year’s MFC 31 event.
Jiang Long Yun vs. Yodsanan Sityodtong (Jiang Long Yun wins by submission – Rear Naked Choke)
‘Little Tyson’ walked out to a standing ovation from the Singapore crowd, but it was short lived. The ONE FC card saw its second submission of the night when the referee was forced to stop the fight after Sityodtong fell right asleep upon giving his back and succumbing to a Rear Naked Choke submission. But it wasn’t all Jekyll and no Hyde for the Northern Tiger. Jiang Long Yun had to weather the early storm after a series of nice strikes and combinations from Evolve MMA’s Yodsanan Sityodtong. He did, however, almost have a toe-hold submission on ‘Little Tyson’ but the latter was able to avoid it. The end came when Sityodtong threw a knee that was caught and reversed into a takedown by Northern Tiger. Jiang Long Yun then applied more pressure on his much fancied opponent after some nice Ground-And-Pound. Despite the crowd’s plea for Sityodtong to recover, he couldn’t.
With just 30s to go before the end of the first round, ‘Little Tyson’ eventually gave up his back and Jiang Long Yun was able to secure the RNC submission.
Quek Kim Hock vs. Majee Overall (Quek Kim Hock wins by submission – Rear Naked Choke)
Majee ‘Major’ Overall took the fight at short notice, when Impact MMA’s Juan Wen Jie had to withdraw after getting an injury. Kim Hock walked out to a rising reception from the Singapore crowd, who were definitely showing some love to the debutant. As a holder of several regional/national boxing championships, Kim Hock displayed his boxing credentials with some lovely Nick Diaz-like punches, although the American, Majee Overall, had 2 leg-lock attempts. Kim Hock, however, was able to escape from them. In the second round, Majee Overall was determined to get the better of his opponent on the feet, and displayed some nice, crisp technical strikes. Throughout the fight, his jabs did some considerable amounts of damage. On the other hand, Kim Hock was doing a great job with his solid hands, and even managed to take the fight to the mat. Kim, who was representing Team Juggernaut Fight Club, showed the ability to take his opponent’s back with ease. On one occasion, Kim had Overall trapped in an RNC, but the latter was able to snap out of it.
However, after Overall gave up his back again for the second time, he was unable to defend the Rear Naked Choke submission this time around, and was forced to tap.
Jeet Toshi vs. Nicole Chua (Nicole Chua wins by submission – Rear Naked Choke)
Arguably the fight that everybody had been waiting for, there was a mixture of tension and excitement in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, even before the bout began. The Singapore crowd tried to instil confidence and bravery in Nicole, by cheering and giving her their support. The fight promised to deliver fireworks, and indeed it did. Early sparks were hurled from both women, as both Toshi and Nicole were trading blows. As a 7-time national kick-boxing champion, many were expecting Toshi to have an advantage on the feet, but Nicole was clearly defying the odds. And once the fight hit the mat, the representative from Evolve MMA was clearly more dominant. Her rapidly improving ground game began to show. After a series of some beautiful transitions, Nicole got into Toshi’s guard and began throwing hammer fists and some brutal Ground-And-Pound. Toshi was clearly struggling to defend off her back, although she was landing with some elbows of her own. Toshi eventually gave up her back, allowing Nicole to synch in an RNC. Toshi, however, refused to tap, showing great heart and determination.
Her resistance was admirable, but her body could only take so much. Veteran referee Matt Hume was forced to stop the fight at 2:07s of the first round.
Masakazu Imanari vs. Kevin Belingon (Masakazu Imanari wins by submission – Heel Hook)
Imanari was perhaps the favourite to take this fight, although many were fancying the URCC Flyweight Champion and Team Lakay’s Kevin Belingon, because of his fast hands and incredible strikes. Nonetheless, with all the hype aside, Imanari showed his previously unbeaten opponent that experience plays a pivotal role in Mixed Martial Arts. As the fight began, all the ‘Ashikan Judan’ had to do was to stick to what he knew best – applying those devastating heel-hooks. After missing a kick, Imanari went to the ground. But as Belingon was closing in for the Ground-And-Pound, the ‘Ashikan Judan’, as he’s so appropriately nicknamed, instinctively took one of the legs of Belingon and tried to lock in his signature move. ‘The Silencer’, however, was not willing to let Imanari submit him that easily. Belingon persevered and was relentless in trying to get his leg free. But with the likes of grappling maestro Shinya Aoki looking on, Imanari finally got a firm hold of his signature manoeuvre, and forced his opponent to tap at 1:18s of the very first round.
With his opponent having to endure the agony of his first defeat, Imanari managed to break his 2-fight losing streak.
Jian Kai Chee vs. Eddie Ng (Eddie Ng wins by TKO)
Eddie had a good reputation for his ability to make quick work of his opponents. Moreover, prior to this bout, none of his past fights had made it past the 1st round. Eddie Ng, who trains out of the famed Evolve MMA gym in Singapore, entered the cage for the 2nd time, looking in superb condition. Both fighters knew that this bout would eventually end up as a stand-up war, and indeed it did. Jian Kai Chee, a former National Muay Thai champion, was obviously keen on keeping this fight on its feet. But when both fighters were going at it near the cage, it was Eddie who landed with a vicious right hook that sent his victim tumbling on the mat. But Eddie didn’t stop there. The Total Combat FC champion immediately swarmed on his opponent with some brutal Ground-And-Pound, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 0:43s of round 1.
Eddie therefore wins by TKO, and improves his record to 5-1.
Yoshiyuki Nakanishi vs. Melvin Manhoef (Fight is ruled a no-contest after doctor’s stoppage)
Fans expressed their disappointments after this bout was ruled a no-contest. The fight had to be stopped midway through the first round, because Nakanishi and Manhoef suffered severe gashes to their knee and shin respectively. Boos started echoing throughout the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and Melvin Manhoef, the former Strikeforce veteran, was determined to continue. The doctor, however, refused to give in to the former Cage Rage Light-Heavyweight’s demands.
Fans also started repetitive chants of ‘Fight’, but the outcome never changed.
Yuya Shirai vs. Fabricio Monteiro (Fabricio Monteiro wins by Unanimous Decision)
Yuya Shirai had his two-fight winning streak snapped, when Fabricio ‘Pitbull’ Monteiro decisioned him last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The reigning DEEP Welterweight champion had a good first round, landing a couple of crisp strikes on the ‘Pitbull’. Shirai seemed more technical with his strikes too. On top of that, he may have very well taken the first round after he landed a beautiful, picture-perfected Judo takedown. Monteiro, however, stepped up a gear in the second round. He did a brilliant job of putting Shirai towards the cage, whilst landing a couple of strikes and elbows. His under-hooks may have worn out his opponent, who clearly hated being in that predicament. In my humble opinion, I felt that was a brilliant strategy. With the second round now in the books, Monteiro looked a bit more aggressive in the third. He was landing with better striking combinations, whilst Shirai was having some success with his use of the jabs. All in all, ‘Pitbull’ had better cage control and was more technical in his striking. He thus won the fight via Unanimous decision.
Fabricio Monteiro also improves his record to 20-9.
Ole Laursen vs. Eduard Folayang (Ole Laursen win by Split Decision)
Ole Laursen was looking to rebound from his ONE FC debut loss against main eventer, Felipe Enomoto. In the meantime, URCC Welterweight Champion Eduard Folayang was looking to make it 10 wins out of 11, after winning his debut fight at the organisation’s 1st inaugural event. However, that was not to be. ‘Iron Fist’, as he’s so appropriately named came right at his opponent from the get-go, in an aggressive manner, and was on a scavenger hunt to take the fight to the mat, where he felt that he had an advantage. He almost had a standing Rear Naked Choke too, but was unable to pull it off. In the second round, however, the tide shifted in the opposite direction. Eduard Folayang had put on a leg-kick clinic. Folayang, who was representing the famed Team Lakay, was delivering kicks from all angles. There were push-kicks, spinning back kicks, front kicks, well you name it, and he pretty much pulled it off. Laursen, on the other hand, was throwing some power punches and connected with a couple of them. Although evidently, ‘Landslide’ displayed a vintage performance in the second round. The third round was no doubt the deciding factor, as to who the victor will be. Mentally, both fighters knew that they had to swing for the fences. And they did just that. Folayang did an excellent job of mixing his kicks and punches altogether, but it was Laursen’s takedowns, that may have ultimately secured him the fight and the round.‘Iron Fist’ was greeted with boos and jeers, as the crowd strongly felt that the URCC Welterweight Champion should have gotten the decision.
Nonetheless, Laursen secures a controversial split-decision win.
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Donald Sanchez (Tatsuya Kawajiri wins by submission – Triangle Choke)
Kawajiri was arguably the favourite heading into this fight. And he lived up to it too.‘The Crusher’ immediately scored a takedown as soon as the fight began, although Donald Sanchez, the reigning King of the Cage Bantamweight Champion, did well to fight off, from his back. Kawajiri was unable to land much damage from Sanchez’s guard, and made a decision to switch positions.
When it was Kawajiri’s turn to fight off from his back, ‘The Crusher’ locked in a spectacular Triangle choke, to end the fight at 3:27s of the very first round.
Felipe Enomoto vs. Zorobabel Moreira (Zorobabel Moreira wins by submission – Arm Bar)
Zorobabel Moreira displayed his excellent ground game, in this impressive submission win over Felipe Enomoto.‘Zoro’, as he’s so often referred to, took the first round by a mile. His rapidly improving stand-up game was evident in this fight. His Muay Thai training at Evolve MMA was clearly paying off, as he dished out an array of leg kicks along with some effective strikes. Enomoto, in the meantime, was looking to carrying on the wave of momentum from his debut win at ONE FC 2, by pulling off a triangle choke in the first round. However, ‘Zoro’ was able to defend it. Moreira was able to continue to put on a great striking display, often outclassing his opponent. The fight was stopped in the 2nd round, after Moreira submitted Enomoto with an Arm-Bar.
‘Zoro’ knocked Enomoto down with a hard leg kick, before taking side control. However, Moreira than made the transition to his opponent’s back, and was perhaps looking for a Rear Naked Choke. But, he managed to take Enomoto arm, before applying a textbook Arm-Bar at 1:04s of round 2.
Submission of the Night: Zorobabel Moreira (Arm-Bar)
Fight of the Night: Ole Laursen vs. Eduard Folayang