ONE 166 Qatar: Amir Aliakbari impresses on otherwise tough night for Middle East fighters

Sport360 staff 20:24 01/03/2024
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  • Amir Aliakbari impressed at ONE166: Qatar

    Iran’s Amir Aliakbari picked up a huge win against a former ONE Championship world champion, but ONE 166:Qatar was generally a tough night for the Middle East fighters on the card.

    In front of a vociferous crowd at the Lusail Sports Arena, Aliakbari always looked in control against Arjan Bhullar – and picked up a disqualification win thanks to the Indian’s unwillingness to fully engage. 

    Heavyweight Aliakbari was heading towards a relatively comfortable unanimous decision win, but referee Herb Dean called a stop to proceedings a minute before the end of the final round.

    The opening stanza was a cagey affair with both fighters looking respectful of the other’s power, but it was the Iranian who looked to hand his hands go, trying to find a home for his fight-changing right hand.

    There was more of the same in the second, as Aliakbari landed straights, hooks, and uppercuts with the damaging right. Bhullar looked solid with his jab, but could not throw in any kind of volume, and that resulted in two yellow cards for inactivity.

    Aliakbari again looked to land big in the third round but could not find a fight-ending shot or combination before the contest was brought to a premature end.   

    Zuhayr Al-Qahtani has a tough night in Qatar

    Boxing returned to ONE Championship for the first time since 2017, but it was not the ONE debut Saudi Arabia’s Zuhayr Al-Qahtani was hoping for. Striking legend Mehdi Zatout had come out of retirement to face the previously undefeated Al-Qahtani, and posed a puzzle that was just too tricky to solve.

    Zatout looked confident throughout the fight, often seen with his guard low and throwing shots from unconventional angles that Al-Qahtani struggled to get to grips with.

    At range Zatout controlled the distance and looked dangerous with his right hand, and when things came in close he was able to stifle Al-Qahtani’s attacks with relative ease.

    All three judges scored the fight in favour of the Algerian who picked up a famous unanimous decision win.

    Cleber Sousa got the better of Osamah Almarwai

    Saudi-Yemeni grappling contender Osamah Almarwai also has a tough night in Qatar. He had hoped a win would put him back in reach of a title bout with reigning ONE flyweight Submission Grappling champion Mikey Musumeci, but Brazil’s Cleber Sousa had other ideas.

    Sousa looked to get on the front foot from the outset, and Almarwai found himself on his back early on but was fending off the Brazilian’s attacks well and was looking for heel and ankle lock opportunities.

    However as the round progressed Sousa was able to transition through different positions attacking both the arm and neck of his opponent before eventually getting a submission via armbar.

    Moroccan Muay Thai debutant Zakaria El Jamari fell to Russia’s Ali Saldoev via second round KO.