With two title fights and the conclusion of the promotion's Bantamweight Grand Prix in store, today's ONE FC 9: "Rise to Power" online pay-per-view (PPV) event, which took place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, was all set to be something special.
And so it was.
In the main event, newly-minted featherweight kingpin Honorio Banario, fresh off his win over top-tier prospect Eric Kelly, took on 13-year veteran Koji Oishi, coincidentally also 13 years Banario's elder. After a tentative opening minute, controlled mostly by Banario's aggression, a right hand from the challenger put him on his seat.
Undaunted, Banario rose to his feet, backing Oishi all the way up to the opposite fence before buckling him with a right hand of his own. A second right dropped the Japanese veteran, but time ran out before the Filipino champion could capitalize.
Having tasted each other's power, neither was eager to exchange early in the second, and for good reason. As soon as they did, the fight ended. Oishi countered a jab with a beautiful overhand right, putting Banario on queer street before a pair of punches sent him all the way to dreamland.
Not bad for a guy who entered the fight with only six knockouts.
In the co-main event, Bibiano Fernandes put on a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) clinic, easily taking Koetsu Okazaki apart with constant takedowns and airtight back control. While Okazaki managed to avoid being submitted and landed a few good shots on the feet, Fernandes was in control, effectively the entire fight.
With the five-round decision, Fernandes took home the vacant interim bantamweight title. It's a shame someone of his prodigious talents has no interest in UFC, but providing for one's family is more important than pride.
The tertiary bout featured Kevin Belingon taking on Shooto champion Masakatsu Ueda in the conclusion of ONE FC's Bantamweight Grand Prix. While Belingon had a reasonable amount of success stopping Ueda's takedowns, the latter's relentlessness and ridiculous BJJ abilities carried him to victory, as he controlled much of the fight from top position while pursuing submissions like kimuras and armbars.
The third round saw Belingon punish a sequence of desperate takedowns with knees and soccer kicks, opening his opponent up, only for Ueda to pull him on top and eventually sweep his way to top position. After his disappointing stint in Bellator, taking home the decision victory was undoubtedly a satisfying experience for Ueda.
Also of note, today's "Prelims" featured a technical knockout loss for Tim Sylvia (doctor's stoppage), who was busted open by Tony Johnson Jr. in the third round of their heavyweight affair. Faring even worse was fellow UFC veteran Phil Baroni, who suffered a grisly ankle injury in his knockout loss to Nobutatsu Suzuki.
See the GIF here.