IT seems like Sakura trees weren’t the only things springing into life in Tokyo. The turn of events that took place in “ONE: A New Era” at the packed Ryokogu Kokugikan recently produced memories that encapsulated everything that Asian mixed martial arts is about.
For years to come, fans can look back at the mixed results produced in Japan, Demetrious Johnson (pix) and Eddie Alvarez; China’s Xiong Jing Nan overcoming impossible odds to retain her world title; the nerve-wrecking conclusion of the bantamweight championship clash between Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandez and the super-fight between Japan’s Ken Hasegawa and Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang.
Alvarez’s debut didn’t go as expected against the sizable favourite Russian Timofey Nastyukhin.
After several early exchanges, Alvarez was left rattled against the cage. Nastyukhin threw several unstoppable punches until Alvarez crumpled to the ground. The referee subsequently halted the contest and announced the Russian as the winner.
Where Alvarez failed however, Johnson found success via a submission finish against Japan’s Yuya Wakamatsu in the second round of their flyweight world grand prix contest.
The “Mighty Mouse” had a nervy start as Wakamatsu made it hard for Johnson after he landed a few good clean punches. However, Johnson took down Wakamatsu and secured a deep guillotine choke to get the win.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s icon Aung La N Sang retained his middleweight championship in ruthless manner.
In the first round, Aung La landed venomous punches and several kicks on Hasegawa. No wonder he is nicknamed “The Burmese Phyton”. In the second round, Aung La repeated the action until he defeated Hasegawa with heavy ground-on-pound for the finish.
Defending One World strawweight champion Xiong Jing Nan of China meanwhile defended her title after defeating the atomweight world champion Angela Lee from Singapore.
Lee appeared aggressive early on and was on the verge of victory when she had Xiong in a number of submission attempts. but Xiong hurt Lee with continues punches and kicks in the final round before the referee jumped in to save the Singaporean from further injury in stoppage time.
The One bantamweight world tittle clash between champion Kevin Belingon of the Phillipines and former title holder Bibiano Fernandez ended in controversy as Belingon was disqualified in the third round for an illegal strike to the back of the head of Fernandez.
Belingon was given a red card and disqualified for his illegal strike. As a result, the world title was awarded to the Brazilian but Fernandes refused to accept it.
During the post-match press conference, ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Siyodtong announced a rematch in order for the duo to get a more satisfactory end.