ONE FC 14: Suzuki crowned first Welterweight champion, controversial refereeing & judging, Malaysians win

Brock Larson meme vs. Suzuki in ONE FC 14

ONE FC: War of Nations – Nobutatsu Suzuki mercifully defeats Brock Larson to become first Welterweight champion

The inaugural ONE FC Welterweight Championship title was on the line in Kuala Lumpur on this night and it was Japan’s Nobutatsu Suzuki who’s got it (apologies on the mix-up on my previous post, Suzuki wasn’t the defending champ yet) via unanimous decision, which was the easiest one to give on the night. Suzuki had no fear against the much bigger Brock Larson (not Lesner) from the United States, controlling the centre of the cage and pressured his opponent in practically the entire bout, leaving Larson not much space to use his reach advantage.

The main event kicked off with both fighters just testing each other out a bit before the fireworks begun. Suzuki landed some great knees but it was Larson’s round. The south paw American connected some stiff straight jabs, got the takedown and delivered some heavy elbows on top but he begun showing signs of fatigue in the second round when he opted to go with the sudden-rush counter-attack strategy and dive for single-leg takedowns but ineffective and instead, got rocked in the head by Suzuki’s knee. Much lesser action in the third round with only Suzuki closing down and throwing low kicks. Larson was already dead tired, perhaps Suzuki’s energetic ways and speed were too much for him.

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The championship rounds, Suzuki begun hunting for the finish. He threw a hard low kick that dropped Larson and from then onwards, he kept lying down to the ground and took his time to get back to his feet. The Karate man Suzuki, known only for his knockout power, was of course disinterested to risk his game by accepting Larson’s invitation to the ground. In the fifth and final round, Larson rolled the dice, using what seemed to be his last strength for more meaningful takedown attempts but not only to no avail, he also got countered back by strikes. After that Larson just kept laying himself to the ground whenever Suzuki closed down and hoped that Suzuki would come play on the ground but Suzuki remained patient and classy, or rather just merciful. He had a golden opportunity for a soccer kick to Larson’s head but he decided not to take it. This went on until the final bell.

Larson’s repeated lie-on-the-ground action totally turned an exciting bout into a boring one. I think ONE FC should seriously consider deducting points of fighters who do this in the future. The crowd was so annoyed that they even started booing Larson and chanting Suzuki’s name in hopes that he could end the fight sooner. Anyway, congrats to the well-deserved new and first ONE FC Welterweight champion. Can’t wait to see him defending his belt against the likes of former Bellator champ Ben Askren or Adam Kayoom who was supposed to be the one fighting for the inaugural title in Warrior Spirit against Suzuki but the main event was cancelled at the last minute due to injury.

Co-main event: Korean Kim Dae Hwan backs up trash talk, forces Philippine’s Kevin Belingon to tap out in the very first round

It was a very slow start with neither fighters making the first attack. The crowd started booing, the referee’s annoyed and only then they let their fists fly after Kevin Belingon got the take down which they ended up on the feet exchanging strikes. Belingon attempted an unusual wrestling-like guillotine choke with his arms around Kim Dae Hwan’s neck but body behind him so when that didn’t do anything, the Filipino’s back was exposed and it was a free rear naked choke for the escaped Korean. Belingon was forced to tap quite instantly.

Controversial judges and referee decisions: Ariel Sexton’s decision loss, Arnaud Lepont’s TKO loss, Andrew Leone’s full mount

ONE FC referee Yuji Shimada might be starting to have a bit of a reputation for being overly laid back and inconsistent at times. He allowed some fighters to walk to the centre of the cage and beyond before the fight even started, and he likes to stand fighters up even when their on full mount, as though it’s easy to get to that advantageous position. All the fellows below needed to do was to keep it boring and wait for Shimada’s call to save them. On this night it happened to Andrew Leone as well when he mounted Shinichi Kojima. He was actually delivering short elbows when they were told to stand back up to their feets. What was Shimada thinking? Leone protested but of course, there’s nothing anyone could do but for him to just fight on. He was too aggressive and dominant (and maybe too heavy after failing to make weight) for his Japanese opponent to handle. It went to the scorecard but it was an easy decision for the judges to make at the end. Leone was impressive on both standup and ground.

Boku vs. Lepont in ONE FC 14

Shimada was also the referee in Kotetsu Boku‘s TKO win over Arnaud Lepont late in the first round, which Arnaud protested in disagreement. The fight was very intense, both fighters shown great footwork, both kept firing at the same time. I was particularly impressed with Arnaud’s movements and anticipation as he looked improved, totally different from how he used to fight. Then Arnaud apparently got hit in the nuts (which I didn’t see) but although Shimada wasn’t convinced, he allowed him time to recover, which he shouldn’t have. Then about the stoppage, was it premature? Arnaud went down in agony facing away from Shimada after getting hit to the body on the clinch but he recovered as soon as Shimada got there to break them off. I know the referee’s job is to ensure the safety of the fighters but if Shimada had waited a second longer, the fight would’ve went on. To begin with, Boku’s followup strikes should’ve been illegal as well, ’cause they were to the back of Arnaud’s head as you can see in the photo above. I urge ONE FC to give these both a rematch.

Ariel Sexton flying knee vs. Shalorus in ONE FC 14

Now let’s talk about the judges scoring system. Ariel Sexton‘s unanimous decision loss to Kamal Shalorus was tough to call but definitely questionable nonetheless. As I said a couple of times before, ONE FC’s scoring is just too, what I like to call it, ambiguous compared to UFC’s round-by-round system. I thought Sexton had more significant strike combos landed (including flying knees and back kicks) and sort of had near submissions when he had his opponent’s back twice while attempting the rear naked choke (which Shalorus escaped quite quickly, to be fair), and “near submission”, “striking combinations” and “superior positioning” are listed as the top three most important criteria in ONE FC’s judging system. Shalorus shown superior wrestling and scored plenty of takedowns, ground control and aggression but all that are listed as third to fifth criteria. So how was this a unanimous decision win to Shalorus? If the first Osman-Lim fight had the same kind of judging, Osman probably would’ve won instead. This just appears to be pure judging inconsistency. I’d say give these two buff lightweights a rematch as well.

Both hometown boys of Malaysia Peter Davis and Saiful Merican victorious

Waqar Umar was scheduled to fight Peter Davis but was replaced by his cornerman Bashir Ahmad after failing to make the flight to KL for the weigh-ins due to visa issues. And then on the next day, Waqar Umar was slotted back to the card after somehow managing to make it here before the event started. All that back and forth change of opponents didn’t stop my former sifu Peter Davis from winning though. The home crowd was very much behind him.

Peter Davis wins againt Waqar Umar in ONE FC 14

In round one, Peter shown great reach advantage on standup and when Umar was pressured to the fence, he attempted a standing guillotine choke but ended up being taken down by Peter. Significant elbows were delivered on the ground by Peter and then when Umar somehow managed to scramble back up to his feet, Peter landed a clean high spinning kick which got Umar’s mouth guard flying right out. Peter wanted to continue his approach but Umar was saved by the bell. In round two, Umar tried to show more urgency, landing some kicks but Peter took him down. Umar reversed to an armbar which Peter escaped but Umar ended up on full mount. Peter managed to reverse, got on top, tied up one of Umar’s hand (which he failed to do so in round one) and elbowed Umar’s face until he had enough and tapped out verbally.

Saiful Merican continues his run after defeating the very aggressive Cambodian Khim Dima on a split decision. It was indeed tough match to call as both fighters were quite equal in strikes, Saiful showed a more rounded game, mixing it up with take downs and very significant ground striking but Dima got Saiful bloodied up after connecting a short knee to the head when he sprawled and pinned down Saiful’s takedown shot. It could’ve gone either way, really.

Adriano Moraes gets his first ONE FC win, Herbert Burns continues winning streak

Adriana Moraes never looked like losing as he was too quick for Yasuhiro Urushitani. He was dominant in the first round, landing plenty of strikes including his trademark flying knee but the Japanese survived somehow. In round two, although Moraes continue pressuring and commanding the centre of the cage, both fighters started playing the waiting game. The lack of action irritated both the crowd and the referee, and even after warning was given, it remained boring until Moraes managed to jump onto Urushitani’s back for the rear naked choke submission and got the tapout.

The Undercard bout between Harris Sarmiento and Herbert Burns was a match of technicality. The first round was like a BJJ match with submissions coming from Burns, then the second was like a technical round with some awesome Judo throws from Sarmiento but didn’t do much on the ground. In the final round, the more experienced Sarmiento found his range and started connecting with some good strike combos but it was a little too late. The Brazilian from Evolve MMA Gym shut down his American opponent’s rhythm by clinching him to the fence to hang on for the decision that could only go his way.

On the cancellation of Ann Osman vs. Sherilyn Lim II…

Ann Osman trained hard with the help of her teammates, MMA fans bought tickets, ONE FC promoted the fight and the media did the buildup and created hype, but all that went to waste when the other woman suddenly decided to be unprofessional. The least Sherilyn Lim could’ve done was to be immediately apologetic but apparently she wasn’t at all and had shown attitude as well.

Real professional fighters, even those with personal problems, do their best to make weight and even most of those who failed weren’t as far off as 5.8% (if my math is correct) above their weightclass limit (she weighed in at 55.1 kg, 3 kg above Strawweight limit). Those who know they need to be excused will notify the organisers in advanced that they cannot make it. Why didn’t Lim pull out earlier? This is just not forgivable unless she has a good excuse and “emotionally unstable” (according to Osman’s Facebook status, this was Lim’s reason for her failure to make weight) really isn’t quite a good one. Shame on the Singaporean.

In overall, War of Nations was perhaps the best MMA event ever in Malaysia thus far

Well, to me at least. Except for Moraes/Urushitani bout and half of the main event, all the other fights were incredibly entertaining and the overall standards of the fighters on the card did seem very much higher than usual, maybe ’cause the number of exciting high profile fighters were indeed more than usual as well. This old stadium is smaller than the usual one in Bukit Jalil and probably only 3/4 of the seats were filled but the crowd was simply awesome, making a lot of “right” noise, cheering for both local and deserving fighters. The fighters entrance visuals were amazing and the sound system seems to be better than ever before as well.

ONE FC moved back to Stadium Negara (remember the leaking problem I had in the first ever ONE FC event in Malaysia in 2012?) most likely because FMFA booked Putra Indoor Stadium earlier. The haze was killing and the Avril Lavigne concert was happening at the same time same place as well, causing much inconvenience, but I was delighted to have had the privilege to attend yet another ONE FC event, seated very closely to the cage with delicious and satisfying Carl’s Junior burgers for dinner. It was the Friday night I’ve been longing for.

The only thing that’s missing was a fairer ring girl with long slim sexy legs. Not that I’m complaining about Christine Hallauer and Mila G. though, but it’s better to have a variety so that we’d know which round is which better (ha-ha).

ONE FC 14: War of Nations – Full Results


Welterweight title: Nobutatsu Suzuki def. Brock Larson | Unanimous Decision | 5 rounds
Bantamweight: Dae Hwan Kim def. Kevin Belingon | Submission (Rear Naked Choke) | 4:39 R1
Flyweight: Adriano Moraes def. Yasuhiro Urushitani | Submission (Rear Naked Choke) | 3:48 R2
Lightweight: Kamal Shalorus def. Ariel Sexton | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Catchweight: Andrew Leone def. Shinichi Kojima | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Lightweight: Kotetsu Boku def. Arnaud Lepont | TKO (Strikes) | 4:06 R1
Lightweight: Peter Davis def. Waqar Umar | Submission (Verbal Tapout) | 3:07 R2


Featherweight: Herbert Burns def. Harris Sarmiento | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Flyweight: Saiful Merican def. Khim Dima | Split Decision | 3 rounds

ONE FC: War of Nations was presented by TuneTalk mobile prepaid.
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