ONE Championship had their first Manila show for the year last Friday, April 24, 2015 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City.
In a night where it was almost a complete sweep for the Filipino fighters featured in the eight-deep card, it was the debut of Mark “Mugen” Striegl (14-1) whose star shined the brightest in making short work of previously unbeaten Casey Suire (5-1). Submission Sport Philippines’ Eugene Toquero (7-1) also brought the “action” in blasting Brianata Rosadhi (1-2). However, to cap the event, the World Welterweight Championship bout between Ben “Funky” Askren (14-0-1) and Luis “Sapo” Santos (61-9-1-1) ended with much drama as the match ended with an eye poke, the only downside to a great night of fights.
Here is the recap of ONE 26: Valor of Champions:
Askren-Santos ends in controversy
Making his Manila debut, Ben “Funky” Askren wanted to send the home fans with a classic to end the night. It was not meant to be for the unbeaten wrestler.
Askren immediately went for a shoot to open the match, but Luis Santos was able to sprawl out of it. “Sapo” became the aggressor soon after as he nailed Askren with head kicks and followed it up with two harai goshi (hip throws), the latter giving Santos the full mount. At the 3:17 mark of the opening round, the two had to be stood up due to inactivity. Seconds later, as Askren was measuring Santos, Askren accidentally pokes the right eye of the challenger with his thumb. Luis Santos was given five minutes to recover from it. When the five minutes were up, Santos refused to get out of his corner. Referee Olivier Coste had no choice but to call the match-off sending the Filipino fans into a frenzy of boos.
Post-fight, the ONE World Welterweight Champion told the members of the press that he did not feel that the poke directly hit the eye of Santos. “My plan was to go forward. When I hit him with the finger, I thought it was on the outside. I didn’t feel it was that bad, it was on the side of the eye. I mean he did not even let the doctor open his eye.”
Moreover, Askren stressed that he came into the event looking for a fight. Finally, when asked if Santos deserved a rematch, “Funky” told us: “I think that the promotion (ONE) is going to take a good look at it. If the doctor says he’s faking it, I don’t know what they’re going to do at that point. Right now the doctor said it was nothing that bad. If the doctor’s say that there is nothing wrong with him, everyone is going to be upset.”
In an update by Jason Chambers, Luis Santos suffered a corneal abrasion.
— Jason Chambers (@FollowMMA) April 24, 2015
“Mugen” makes impressive ONE debut
With the entire Mall of Asia Arena crowd behind him, reigning Philippine National Games Wrestling Champion and ONE Bantamweight Mark Striegl needed just one round to dispose of the previously unbeaten Casey Suire.
After an inadvertent low blow by Striegl to his opponent, Striegl blasted Suire with a high kick and a flying knee. Suire tried to go for a takedown but was quickly countered into a harai goshi by “Mugen” that gave him side control. The Fil-Am wrestler immediately captured the back of his American opponent. After a barrage of elbows and punches, Striegl was able to sink in a rear naked choke with 1:22 remaining in the bout. After 10 seconds of trying to fight off the choke, Suire had no choice but to tap out.
“I love you Manila!” Striegl exclaimed after the fight. “It’s been two years since I’ve been gone in fighting in Manila. In front of my home crowd it [the win] feels amazing.” A humble Striegl told us that he was pressured going into the fight and that the pressure is always there but he uses the pressure as motivation to go into training. Finally, when asked what’s next for Mark, “I’m going to celebrate tonight then relax with my teammates and my family then go back into training and keep busy.”
Filipino stars Toquero and Kelly make short work of opponents
Team Lakay’s Edward Kelly (6-2) and Eugene Toquero (7-1) both came out of the curtains with one thing in mind: to give the Filipino fight fans a night to remember. And the two did just that.
Edward “the Ferocious” Kelly went against Seldef Team’s Jimmy Yabo (4-1) in a Baguio vs. Cebu match. Kelly stymied the kicks of Yabo with kicks of his own. As the two struggled to get the take down midway through the match, “Ferocious” was able get the takedown. Kelly managed to get the back of Yabo and sink a deep rear naked choke to win with just 55 seconds remaining in the bout.
Eugene Toquero, on the other hand, did not let up in his whipping of Indonesian Brianata Rosadhi (1-2). Toquero coasted through his opponent right from the opening minute of the match. After gaining the full mount 16 seconds in, Toquero poured in elbows and punches on his opponent. The Filipino flyweight attempted a rear naked choke at the 3:30 mark but Rosadhi was able to fight it off. After more punishment from Toquero, Eugene made another rear naked choke attempt. The second attempt was perfect and the Indonesian had no choice but to tap with 1:19 remaining.
“Gravity” falls after a close split decision
Geje Eustaquio (6-4) lost a close, some might say controversial, split decision to Thai Anatpong Bunrad (5-1).
In a match that was too close to call, Anatpong Bunrad’s two take downs in the first and third rounds proved to be the difference. Those takedowns countered the aggressiveness displayed by the Team Lakay member.
In the post-fight scrum with victors Edward Kelly and Eugene Toquero, they thought that “Gravity” won the fight but it was close. Kelly told us that “tanggap namin ang decision ng mga judges.” Toquero then gave this advice: “kelangan talaga tapusin ang laban para di na umabot sa kamay ng mga judges. Mahirap kasi pag iiwan sa kamay nila ang desisyon.”
Chinese fighters shine in the undercard; Khan dominates
To open the night, Wang Ya Wei (3-1) opened the card with a thrilling third round TKO victory over a debuting Sunoto (0-1). Another Chinese fighter though left a huge impression on the card as Liu Xiao Yang (2-2) blasted Singapore’s Nicholas Lee (1-3) with a huge right hook in just 1:18 in the first round to even up his record. Lee had to be strechered out of the arena after that vicious knockout for precautionary reasons.
Evolve MMA’s Amir Khan (3-1) also dominated in his match against late replacement Pakistan MMA pioneer Bashir Ahmad (3-2). Ahmad gave a good fight but did not seem to be in his fight form all throughout the fight. A sharp elbow by Khan at the 2:41 mark of the second round resulted to a cut near the left eye of Ahmad. The doctors had to stop the fight due to the bleeding reaching his eye at the 3:20 mark.
ONE Championship 26: Valor of Champions results
April 25, 2015 – SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City
ONE World Welterweight Championship: Ben Askren and Luis Santos ends in a No Contest. Santos cannot continue (Accidental eye poke, Rd 1, 3:10)
Bantamweight Bout: Mark Striegl def. Casey Suire by submission (Rd 1, 3:48)
Catchweight Bout: Anatpong Bunrad def. Geje Eustaquio by split decision
Flyweight Bout: Eugene Toquero def. Brianata Rosadhi by TKO (Ground elbows) (Rd 1, 1:22)
Featherweight Bout: Edward Kelly def. Jimmy Yabo by Submission (Rear naked choke) (Rd 1, 4:05)
Catchweight Bout: Amir Khan def. Bashir Ahmad by TKO (Doctor’s stoppage, cut near the eye) (Rd 3, 3:20)
Flyweight Bout: Liu Xiao Yang def. Nicholas Lee by KO (Right hook) (Rd 1, 3:02)
Featherweight Bout: Wang Ya Wei def. Sunoto by TKO (Ground and pound) (Rd 3, 3:21)
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