The evening featured a card of action-packed bouts, accentuated by a grueling five-round main event between ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash of Rostov-on-Don, Russia, and the challenger the “Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar.
Bigdash returned to the ONE Championship cage to make the first defense of his middleweight title after being sidelined for over a year due to injury. However, the Russian appeared as sharp as the last time we saw him, comfortably dealing with a potent and durable opponent in Aung La N Sang.
Bigdash kept Aung La N Sang at bay with his pinpoint combinations, connecting on various occasions as well as taking the Myanmar national hero down to the canvas seemingly at will. On the mat, Bigdash punished Aung La N Sang with a myriad of elbows as the “Burmese Python” tried to fend him off.
The action continued for five whole rounds before the decision was read in the end with all three judges scoring in favor of the defending champion.
It was a spirited performance from Aung La N Sang, who up to this point had won his last four bouts, including three in his hometown of Yangon. After a string of inspiring appearances inside the ONE Championship cage, he had earned a shot at Bigdash when the champion’s original opponent fell to injury.
Stepping in as a late replacement, however, Aung La N Sang did not appear to have had enough time to prepare for a fighter the caliber of the ONE Middleweight World Champion. But it was an opportunity to challenge for the title that he just could not pass on.
In the preceding bout, Australia’s Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen continued his fast rise through ONE Championship’s featherweight ranks with another tremendous performance.
Nguyen authored one of the most exciting finishes of the evening with a quick first-round technical knockout of Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota to earn his fourth-straight victory.
Nguyen and Yokota stormed out of the gates looking to trade strikes at the center of the ONE Championship cage but it was Nguyen who emerged the sharper fighter. Midway into the round, Nguyen connected on a right hand that staggered Yokota, sending the 38-year-old crashing to the canvas.
Nguyen immediately jumped on his Japanese foe, raining down punches as referee Olivier Coste swiftly stepped in and called a halt to the contest at 3:36 of round one. With the victory, Nguyen improves his record to 8-1 and moves one step closer to a possible rematch with ONE Featherweight World Champion Marat “Cobra” Gafurov.
Nguyen, whose only loss came at the hands of Gafurov as a late replacement, has really come into his own and improved his overall game tremendously as he has shown in his past few bouts. Whether or not he has done enough recently to earn the title rematch remains to be seen.
However, Nguyen has never looked in better shape, and has clearly cemented his place among the top featherweights in the promotion.
In addition, Jakarta-based fighters Vincent “MagniVincent” Latoel and Anthony “Archangel” Engelen emerged victorious in their bouts against top opposition.
Latoel outlasted a game Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre of the Philippines to win by unanimous decision, in a bout which forced Latoel to dig deep in order to overcome Donayre’s incredible will to win. After rocking Donayre on multiple occasions, Latoel appeared on the way to victory, but the Filipino’s sheer determination kept him in the running until the end.
The 31-year-old Engelen had an easier route to victory, blasting Malaysian MMA veteran coach AJ “Pyro” Lias Mansor. Engelen, more well-known for his grappling ability than his stand-up game, pressed the action against Mansor, who had not seen action since 2013. After a sharp combination from Engelen, a huge right hand felled Mansor in under two minutes.
Bali MMA’s Stefer Rahardian also earned a hard-fought victory in his third appearance inside the ONE Championship cage. The undefeated Rahardian trounced Jakarta-based Liberian fighter Jerome S. Paye to win by unanimous decision in a three-round bout.
Rahardian showcased tremendous cage-control for the majority of the fight, smothering Paye with a consistent attack that left the Liberian stifled throughout the contest. The 30-year-old Rahardian left very little openings for Paye, who just couldn’t get his offense going.
Official results for ONE: QUEST FOR POWER
ONE Middleweight World Championship bout: Vitaly Bigdash defeats Aung La N Sang by Unanimous Decision (UD) after five rounds
Featherweight bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Kazunori Yokota by TKO (Strikes) at 3:36 minutes of round 1
Lightweight bout: Vincent Latoel defeats Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous Decision (UD) after three rounds
Lightweight bout: Georgi Stoyanov, Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (No Contest)
Featherweight bout: Anthony Engelen defeats AJ Lias Mansor by Knockout (KO) at 1:42 minutes of round 1
Light Heavyweight bout: Igor Subora defeats Sherif Mohamed by Unanimous Decision (UD) after three rounds
Bantamweight bout: Sunoto defeats Chan Heng by TKO (Strikes) at 2:30 minutes of round 1
Flyweight bout: Stefer Rahardian defeats Jerome S. Paye by Unanimous Decision (UD) after three rounds
Strawweight bout: Rene Catalan defeats Adrian Matheis by Submission (Armbar) at 2:08 minutes of round 2
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