Underdog Honorio “The Rock” Banario won the main event of the night against fellow Filipino Eric “The Natural” Kelly and was crowned the first ever ONE FC World Featherweight Champion. But that isn’t all there is to tell about last night at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Loads to talk about; from unexpected walkout song of a fighter to one of the most gruesome finishes I’ve ever seen in mixed martial arts (MMA) ever. Let me just begin by saying – what a great event it was! A way better venue compared to Stadium Negara, more comfortable seats, better view for the audience all around, cool Tron-like theme visuals for the fighters walkout, a number of awesome fights, great atmosphere, very responsive crowd… perhaps the only downgrade was the octagon/ring girls (from Korean to local) but still great eye candies for most guys, I’m sure.
Jake Butler (United Stated) vs Antoni Romulo (Indonesia)
It wasn’t much of a competition for Butler as he dominated his Indonesian opponent from the very first seconds, easily mounting him and winning by TKO within the first minutes in the first round. Romulo seemed to be nervous and lacked of experience in the cage.
Gianni Subba (Malaysia) vs Saiful Merican (Malaysia)
Saiful weighed in at 59KG hence turning this flyweight bout into a catch weight bout. He gave himself the nickname “Vampire” but strangely walked out with a bunch of people with opera masks and hooded capes while a gothic song played in the background (he should’ve named himself “Phantom of the Opera” instead). His Muay Thai was fantastic, landing significant strikes on Subba, but unfortunately he struggled on the ground. Despite being able to impressively reverse a full mount in the first round, Saiful was forced to tap out on a nicely executed arm bar by Subba in the second. Great performance from the both of them. Apparently, Saiful did only a month of ground training coming into this fight.
4-MAN MALAYSIAN NATIONAL FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
AJ Lias Mansor (Malaysia) vs Jian Kai Chee (Malaysia)
In the first round, AJ was very explosive with his takedowns and managed to mount Kai easily twice. I thought Kai was gonna lose just like how he did in his previous fights. Halfway through the second round, AJ started show fatique, obviously burnt out with all his takedowns. The initially nervous Kai eventually gained full confidence and utilised his range advantage by delivering plenty of kicks and knees. If he had more experience, I believe he would’ve finished AJ in the third round but he allowed AJ to find ways to recover from the huge connections he made to the head. Kai deservingly won by judges decision.
Raymond Tiew (Malaysia) vs Melvin Teoh (Malaysia)
Both of these experienced local MMA fighters paced themselves very well. Too much, in fact, that the referee had to warn them for their lack of action. Melvin, the full-time teacher, failed his the triangle choke attempt after being taken down by Raymond “The Rocket” Tiew at the beginning of the first round but succeeds in the second and managed to win by tap out. Ray never really looked threatening as Melvin controlled the centre of the octagon and landed more significant strikes. Melvin “Overkill” Teoh will face Jian Kai “The Headhunter” Chee in the final of this tournament.
BANTAMWEIGHT GRAND PRIX – FINAL ELIMINATION BOUT
Thanh Vu (Vietnam) vs Mohd. Mohd. Fouzein (Malaysia)
Vu’s actual opponent was supposed to be Ryan Diaz but had to be replaced due to injury. The replacement was supposed to Raymond Tan but for unknown reasons, he too was replaced by at the very last minute. Fouzein was nicknamed “The Underdog” not without a reason. He was clearly lacked of experience. The referee stopped the fight just a minute into the match ’cause the local failed to escape or respond Vu’s standup strikes. Thumbs up for accepting the fight but it was more like a walkover for Vu.
Zuli Silawanto (Indonesia) vs Adam Kayoom (Malaysia)
Total dominance by Adam Kayoom. Started with some loud kicks to his opponent’s thighs before ground and pounding him to a rear naked choke finish – all within the first round. After the fight, he showed a lot respect to the Indonesian and gave an uplifting speech during his post-fight interview, talking about how Malaysia lost to Indonesia in badminton but won today, how we should respect all fighters including non-locals like his opponent Silawonto, how he had to leave his newborn child to train for weeks and how he doesn’t care about the “internet cowboys’ bullshhh”. With two impressive ONE FC wins under his belt now, Adam “Shogun” Shahir Kayoom probably deserves a title contender bout soon. Even Victor Cui (CEO & owner of the ONE FC) emphasised Kayoom when I asked him which Malaysian is the closest to a title shot.
Leo Krishna (Indonesia) vs Peter Davis (Malaysia)
Behold, the most gruesome finish in ONE FC yet. If the uncensored recording of this bout gets on YouTube, it’d definitely gain loads of views. The Indonesian’s a BJJ specialist and he wasted no time taking down Peter as soon as the fight kicked off. Krishna’s ankle lock attempt was well defended by Peter but the leg wasn’t released. Peter was in trouble ’cause it didn’t seem that he could get his right leg out and Krishna was seemingly setting up for a tighter leg lock. When Peter managed to get his back off the fence to lean to the ground, he punished Krishna with multiple brutal stomps to the face with his left heel. Krishna was then forced to lean forward towards Peter to avoid any more damage and eventually gave up the leg. The referee paused the fight to call for a medical check on Krishna’s injury and the doctor decided to disallow the fight to continue ’cause his upper lip was so badly cut that part of it was hanging. I think even an arm break by kimora isn’t as disturbing as this. It’s a doctor’s stoppage TKO win for Peter. Krishna was pissed with decision but it was definitely justified. During post-fight interview, Peter thanked the rules of the ONE FC for allowing kicks and heels to the head on the ground (forbidden in the UFC) and believes he deserves a title shot only if he wins the next one or two fights. I guess he thinks my question was premature too. Deep cuts can be seen on Peter’s heel as well when the camera closed up on the foot. Krishna’s mouthguard must have fallen off.
Vuyisile Colossa (South Africa) vs Lowen Tynanes (United States)
Perhaps the best fight of the night. These two lightweight fighters are extremely built powerhouses. The American wrestler exploded to take down Colossa viciously in the first round and managed to get the South African’s back for a rear naked choke attempt but it was well defended in the end. The tables turned in the second round when the World Muay Thai Champion Colossa showcased his standup striking abilities by delivering plenty of kicks and punches before getting Tynanes’ head all bloodied with his elbow strikes. Colossa stayed dominant in the third round and it looked like he was gonna win by judges scorecard until he gave his back on the ground. Tynanes stole the win in the final 30 seconds with a rear naked choke. How unfortunate for the South African! If he knew there was only 30 seconds left, I bet he wouldn’t have tapped. Great fight nonetheless.
NO. 1 FLYWEIGHT CONTENDER FIGHT
Rey Docyogen (Philippines) vs Shinichi Kojima (Japan)
From the very beginning, Kojima had to withstand the full swinging kicks by Docyogen and the jokes from the audience about his nickname “BJ”. The Japanese never seemed like winning the match at all until he somehow managed to pull a tight full-guard guillotine on the Filipino in the second round to steal the win. He was so ecstatic, he reacted like as though as he won the World Cup. And the crowd, including myself, continued to give him a hard time on his nickname (but not like he understands though). Why oh why did he call himself that?
ONE FC FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FIGHT
Eric Kelly (Philippines) vs Honorio Banario (Philippines)
Banario had great movement and takedown defence while Eric played the waiting game and did nothing but counter strikes and takedown attempts, presumably conserving energy for the right opportunity in the long 5-round bout. Both were very cautious. Due the lack of real action, the audience booed every round until the fight ended abruptly in the 4th round when Banario’s left hook caught Eric’s right eye which got Eric gesturing to Banario and the referee to hold or stop after gradually falling to his butt to sit down while covering the eye. It was the same eye that got injured and swelled like ball in his previous URCC fight. Disappointingly, the referee waved the fight off and awarded Banario with a TKO win. Eric probably lost vision or felt sharp pain in the eye after the hook landed and fearing that it could be serious, I think he either requested for a medical check or gave up the fight. Let’s wait for the confirmation on that. He said that his eye was 100% recovered when I asked him but now I guess he’d better get a new doctor to check on it. During the post-event interview, the new Featherweight Champ clarified that he didn’t poke Eric’s eye, it was a legit hook that connected and that attacking Eric’s injured eye wasn’t part of his game plan.
[UPDATES] MuayFit revealed that Eric sustained a shin injury just a week before the event. So I guess that’s why he didn’t kick much in the fight. Two days later, Eric Kelly himself revealed that he actually ignored doctor’s advice to go for an eye operation because he thought that it was recovering by itself. He added that he will be focusing on recovering for real this time and to come back better than ever.
I wish Eric Kelly a speedy recovery and hope that he’d come back for a second shot at the title. Also, I hope he’ll never pick a Justin Bieber song for his walkout ever again.