Bibiano Fernandes entered his ONE FC 23 title defense as one of the most well-regarded bantamweights on the planet outside the UFC and certainly looked the part, choking out unbeaten challenger Dae Hwan Kim in the second round.
"The Flash," a multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) world champion, was keen to get the fight into his world, shooting for a takedown in the opening seconds and, after some struggle, completing it against the cage. Kim looked to dissuade him with elbows, only to earn a yellow card for landing to the back of the head.
The Korean managed to reverse soon after, but had to fend off a triangle/armbar before they returned to their feet, where the two were relatively evenly-matched. At one point, Kim managed to land two spinning back kicks in succession, with the second one hitting Fernandes' head with his knee. Kim did a solid job for the rest of the round of staying on his feet, though he conceded a late takedown.
Kim went right back to the spinning back kick in the seconds, landing one well to the body. An overhand right proved a worse decision, as Fernandes immediately took his back standing, flattened him out, and secured the rear-naked choke.
Fernandes has now won nine straight fights, taking out some of the best bantamweights on the Asian circuit in the process. One can only hope he finds some more quality challengers.
In the co-main event, Brandon Vera found success in his ONE FC debut, knocking out Ukrainian puncher Igor Subora. The technical gap between them was obvious from the beginning, as Vera rocked him with a head kick in the first minute. Though Igor survived, the rest of the round saw him struggle to land leaping punches on Vera as the UFC veteran connected with counter punches and low kicks.
Later in the round, Subora brought back his right hand too low, which allowed Vera to smash and drop him with a left straight in response. The follow-up soccer kicks, the latter two of which were quite clearly to the back of the head, were enough to seal the deal.
The win marked Vera's second since 2009.
The co-co-feature starred local favorite Eduard Folayang, though I'd imagine many in attendance were less-than-pleased with the result. After an entertaining few minutes of fighting between Folayang and Timofey Nastyukhin, the Russian uncorked one of the nastiest knockouts of the year with a flying knee and follow-up soccer kick that left Folayang splayed out on the canvas.
From Zombie Prophet:
Two former UFC competitors locked horns in the fight before as Roger Gracie faced James McSweeney. Despite the former's impeccable grappling credentials, the fight effectively took place entirely on the feet. Though McSweeney is the more well-known striker of the two, Gracie controlled the fight with his long jab.
The Englishman had his moments, namely a head kick late in the first that seemed to rattle his foe, but appeared to hurt his foot in the second round. In the third, the injury flared up again, giving Gracie an opening to hurt him with a front kick to the body.
A few more punches and Gracie had the first stoppage via strikes of his career.
For quick results and round-by-round coverage of the morning's proceedings, click here.