Martin Nguyen has completed his climb.
The 28-year-old Australian knocked out the previously unbeaten Marat Gafurov and laid claim to the featherweight crown in the One Championship “Quest for Greatness” headliner on Friday at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An unconscious Gafurov (15-1) hit the deck 1:27 into Round 2, as he was dethroned in dramatic fashion.
Nguyen (9-1) fought through some initial adversity to avenge the only loss of his career. Gafurov struck for multiple takedowns in the first round, but his search for a fight-ending choke came up empty. Early in the second, Nguyen separated from the clinch-minded Dagestani grappler and connected with a devastating overhand right. Gafurov fell face first to the canvas, bringing their rematch to a shocking conclusion.
In the lightweight co-main event, Auckland MMA’s Ev Ting won for the fifth time in six outings, as he turned away Nobutatsu Suzuki with first-round punches. Ting (14-4) drew the curtain on the former One Championship welterweight titleholder 3:29 into Round 1.
Suzuki (11-3-2) -- in his first appearance in nearly three years -- struggled to match the athleticism of the resurgent New Zealand-based Malaysia native. Ting kept him off-balance with a variety of exotic techniques, a cartwheel kick among them, before closing the distance and executing a takedown. He settled in half guard and let the punches fall until Suzuki could no longer defend himself.
Meanwhile, Lakay MMA export Kevin Belingon disposed of Reece McLaren with punches in the first round of their bantamweight encounter. McLaren (9-5) succumbed to blows 62 seconds into Round 1.
Belingon (16-5) floored his Australian counterpart with a counter right hand inside the first minute and trailed him to the canvas. There, he applied his ground-and-pound on the turtled McLaren, unleashed a volley of unanswered punches and prompted the stoppage.
The 29-year-old Belingon has rattled off three consecutive victories, two of them finishes, since his failed bid to unseat bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes in January 2016.
In other action, Malaysian prospect Agilan Thani notched a unanimous decision against Sherif Mohamed after their 15-minute welterweight encounter; Gianni Subba claimed a unanimous decision over Riku Shibuya in their three-round battle at 125 pounds; May Ooi submitted Ann Osman with a rear-naked choke 3:27 into the first round of their women’s flyweight confrontation; Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke put away Robin Catalan with knee strikes 46 seconds into the second round of their strawweight tilt; Edward Kelly captured a unanimous verdict over Emilio Urrutia in their three-round pairing at 145 pounds; and Rene Catalan took a unanimous decision from Bu Huo You Ga in a three-round flyweight affair.