ONE Championship: Conquest of Champions By Jessie Aguilar Suarez
The biggest ONE Championship event for 2018 in the Philippines was kicked off by an impressive lineup of fighters providing the perfect backdrop and a sample of more exciting things to come.
In the co-main event, the much-anticipated battle between Eduard Folayang and Amir Khan for the vacant Lightweight belt delivered a splendid display of martial arts skills and creativity between the two fighters. Each one trying to neutralize each other’s skill to establish dominance in the grueling five-round contest.
Chasing the belt to be Singapore’s first home-grown champion, Amir Khan promised to put on a good show and delivers by challenging his rival to a toe-to-toe slugfest. Closing the gap easily with his reach and switching stances to disorient his foe, Khan proved why he is a Muay Thai champion by delivering high kicks and switch kicks from the get go.
Folayang countered with powerful kicks to the lead leg of Khan but struggled to find the range, each time, Khan making Folayang pay with accurate counters. Folayang managed to find his rhythm by alternating inside leg kicks with wushu style sidekicks to the thighs and to the body, leaving Khan guessing what was coming. An ensuing back and forth battle followed with the crowd going wild as Folayang timed one of Khan’s switch kick and lands a spinning back fist. Not to be outdone, Khan punishes the Filipino in the clinch by throwing knees to the body. Folayang however, turns out of harm’s way as he exits with spinning elbows. With confidence in his timing, Folayang threw a short gazelle punch ala Floyd Patterson, visibly rocking his young adversary. Khan returned to his corner, limping, bleeding and clearly exhausted.
As Khan slowed down significantly, Folayang took control of the championship rounds, landing two spinning wheel kick flush on Khan’s head. It was all Folayang from then on as the crowd cheers deafeningly.
Dom Lau’s powerful voice announced the victor to the delight of the crowd. Folayang is once again the new ONE Lightweight Champion of the world, winner via unanimous decision.
In the main event, MMA Superstar Brandon “The Truth” Vera defends his heavyweight title against Italy’s top prospect Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli. The already emotional Philippine crowd, anxious to see whether Vera could get over his ring rust due to an almost two-year inactivity was greeted by an intimidating aura by the ONE heavyweight champ. As Vera enters the cage, the excitement builds up.
The two met in the center of the ring showing mutual respect. Vera capitalized on his kicks to control the range and avoid the heavy hands of Cerilli. As the Italian charges forward and released an overhand right, Vera retreats while both men almost simultaneously uncoils a powerful left hook. Vera’s left hand landed more cleanly and the fight was over with only a minute and four seconds in the very first round. Brandon “The Truth” Vera remains as the undisputed ONE Heavyweight Champion of the world.
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