ONE FC 23: Fernandes retains title, Vera finishes, Philippines 4-3 on the night

Kim Ha Yul, Bibiano Fernandes, Victor Cui, Han Jieun ONE FC 23 warrior's way

ONE FC: Warrior’s Way review – Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes submits unbeaten Kim Dae Hwan to retain Bantamweight championship

Former UFC veteran Brandon “The Truth” Vera returns to the cage with soccer kick in his arsenal and led the Philippines to a 4-3 record on the night

For unknown reason, Astro Fox Sports 3 (formerly known as StarSports) delayed the broadcast of the event instead of showing it live as usual. I ended up going to bed very early in the morning, but what the heck, it’s Saturday. ONE FC: Warrior’s Way was held in Manila, Philippines at the awesome-looking stadium Mall of Asia Arena. Quite a few great fights, brutal finishes and only 3 bouts went to the judges’ scorecards.

Bibiano Fernandes, Kim Dae Hwan  takedown ONE FC 23 Warrior's Way

Korean Bantamweight title challenger Kim Dae Hwan (10-1-1) was unbeaten until he faced the reigning champ Bibiano Fernandes (17-3) from Brazil, who obviously had way more experience. Kim was doing some flashy spinning back kicks and knees but Fernandes, like his nickname “The Flash”, was quick at shooting for takedowns, and he got quite a few in the very first round, and attempted a triangle choke-cum-arm bar but Kim was composed enough to escape. It was exciting enough for co-commentator Steve Dawson to address Kim as “the Japanese” once during the fight without anyone around him noticing. Early in round 2, “The Flash” dodged an overhand punch by ducking under it as though it was a choreographed action movie scene, and got the back of Kim and eventually applied a deep rear naked choke which forced Kim to tap out.

Fipino-American fighter Brandon Vera (13-7) finally returned to the cage and he was fantastic against Ukrainian Igor Subora (5-2), who was very brave to take on the former UFC veteran despite his limited experience in comparison. Vera was killing it on standup, landing some heavy strikes and had absolute control at the clinch. With just over a minute to go in the first round, Vera dropped Igor with a straight left punch (almost knocked his mouthguard out too) and followed up with soccer kicks to the head. The referee was forced to stop the fight as Igor only responded by turning to the side on the ground which caused the back of his head punished by one of those kicks.

Brandon Vera soccer kicks Igor Subora ONE FC 23 Warrior's Way

So including Vera, 4 out of 3 Filipino fighters won on this card. Kevin Belligon (13-4) was entertainingly impressive, showing significant speed advantage and was literally chopping off his opponent’s thighs with his crazy leg kicks. He couldn’t finish the very defensive Koetsu Okazaki (10-4) but totally dominated the Japanese for a clear decision win. Both the local ladies on the undercard Ana Julaton and Jujeath Nagaowa won their bouts as well but too bad the fans outside of the stadium couldn’t see it as the undercard fights were never broadcasted.

Eduard Folayang (14-5) was knocked out cold after getting brutally flying-kneed to the chin and soccer-kicked to the head twice by Timofey NASTYukin (8-1) from Russia. Before that happened, both fighters were thrillingly exchanging hard swings and there wasn’t much of a doubt that this bout wouldn’t go beyond the first round. Rene Catalan (0-2) remains winless in his MMA career thus far after being KO-ed by a knee to the body from dangerous Lumpinee Muay Thai champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (4-0). Former Featherweight champ Honorio Banario (8-5) was choked out by Herbert Burns (5-0), who actually didn’t make weight. How the mighty has fallen, Banario has lost his fourth straight since after winning the inaugural title against the injured Eric Kelly. Speaking of which, I was surprised that Eric wasn’t on the card but it was stacked with enough high-profile Filipino fighters to please the home crowd.

Timofey NASTYukin flying knee Eduard Folayang ONE FC 23 Warrior's Way

Kim Ha Yul and Han Jieun Korean ONE FC ring girlsPlastic but cock-teasingly hot Korean babes Kim Ha Yul and Han Jieun were the ring girls of the night, who were such a screen-stealers that even the cameraman couldn’t help but to point his… camera at ’em after every fight instead of showing the fighters hugging it out. If the Malaysians show more love for MMA, I’m sure ONE FC would consider bringing more high-profile fighters over in the future, along with these hot Korean ring girls.

The new social media segment thingy, that featured Natalia Tang Ling presenting the live Facebook data, was cool but still feel a bit awkward. There was a new commentator (can’t recall his name) who paired up with Steve Dawson and the last time in KL it was Brandon Vera. Was Jason Chambers at the previous event or is he finally fired? Strange, but not really after this incident.

Next stop: Beijing, China, ONE FC: Dynasty of Champions on 19 December headlined by Ji Xian vs. Dong Song Ya and Vincent Latoel vs. Adrian Pang.

Full Results

ONE Warrior Bonus: (not awarded again?)

Bantamweight Title: Bibiano Fernandes def. Dae Hwan Kim | Submission (RNC) | R2 1:16
Heavyweight: Brandon Vera def. Igor Subora | KO | R1 3:54
Lightweight: Timofey Nastyukhin def. Eduard Folayang | KO | R1 3:11
Light Heavyweight: Roger Gracie def. James McSweeney | TKO (Strikes) | R3 3:15
Bantamweight: Kevin Belingon def. Koetsu Okazaki | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Catchweight: Herbert Burns def. Honorio Banario | Submission (RNC) | R1 3:59
Light Heavyweight: Jake Butler def. Sylvain Potard | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Flyweight: Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke def. Rene Catalan | KO | R1 2:30
Flyweight: Ana Julaton def. Walaa Abas | Unanimous Decision | 3 rounds
Atomweight: Jujeath Nagaowa def. Tharoth Sam | TKO (Strikes) | R2 3:34

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