One Championship's middleweight title fight isn't what the crowd at the Putra Stadium in Kuala Lumpur came to see. Nonetheless, unbeaten Russian Vitaly Bigdash stole the show and Igor Svirid's gold.
Despite fighting in the middle of the One's Malaysian offering behind more popular local fighters, Bigdash (8-0) was every bit the main event of “Tigers of Asia,” knocking Svirid (10-2) out 36 seconds into the second round with a blistering clinch knee-right hook combo and hammerfists. The scintillating stoppage was the culimation of a wild brawl and gutsy comeback by the 31-year-old Bigdash, all in less than six minutes.
In the contest's first four minutes, Bigdash was savaged by his Kazakh foe's jab and right hand, eating the canvas four times during that period, with Svirid forcing Bigdash to stand to his feet after each knockdown. Finally on the fourth knockdown, Svirid attempted to finish, nearly ended up in a triangle armbar and got swept. Drawing deep breaths on his back, it seems Svirid might be spent.
Svirid himself nearly didn't make it out of round one, as Bigdash landed two brutal knees, dropped him and dove on his back to finish by rear-naked choke, only for the bell to save Svirid. However, Bigdash found another knee and the necessary follow-up punches to seal the deal less than a minute into round two, earning the title.
If Bigdash's triumph was the main event, the Kuala Lumpuer crowd might have gone home happier, as the actual last bout on the evening saw Malaysian flyweight and One Championship postergirl Ann Osman get her clock cleaned by Russian muay Thai exponent Irina Mazepa in the very first round.
Osman (3-2) got Mazepa on the ground quickly, but with a sloppy attempt to take the back, Osman couldn't keep the kickboxer down. Osman pressed for another takedown against the fence, but Mazepa (1-0) crossfaced to create some separation, then ripped off a four-punch combo. Only the last punch landed, but that left hook was all Mazepa needed. Osman fell fetal on her side, eating two more hammerfists before referee Joey Lepiten could rescue her at 3:05 of the first frame.
Despite weighing in at 147 pounds for his slated featherweight contest with the Philippines' Honorio Banario, Malaysia's Ev Ting (10-3) still made quick and easy work of his foe. Honorio (8-6) lazily clinched early in the fight, allowing Ting to grab a standing guillotine, pull guard, use his leg to trap Honorio's arm and roll him into full mount for the tap in just 56 seconds. The loss is Banario's fifth straight.
Even faster than that was Adrian “The Hunter” Pang's nasty handiwork against hometown boy Peter Davis. Pang (22-8-2) needed just 48 seconds to land a long left hand, drop Davis (10-4) and knock him out cold with another battery of lefts. The 38-year-old native of Papua New Guinea has won seven of his last eight.
Returning from 15 months on the shelf due to injury, Filipino featherweight Eric Kelly (12-1) got lucky, taking a dubious unanimous verdict over Shooto product Hiroshige Tanaka (10-3). The southpaw Tanaka landed better shots at distance and controlled the fight positionally, taking Kelly down and knuckling him against the cage for most of the bout. Kelly's primary offense came late in round three, as he elbowed behind his own body a la Roger Huerta, bloodying Tanaka up as he clung to a rear waistlock. Even still, Tanaka took Kelly's back and nearly sunk a rear-naked choke in the bout's closing moments, making the three Kelly scorecards all the more confusing.
Former One Championship bantamweight title contender Dae Hwan Kim (11-1) rebounded from the first loss of his career, dominating China's Li Ge Teng (3-3) from back control until eventually sinking the rear-naked choke he sought at 4:08 of the second round. Kim was defeated by One's 135-pound ace Bibiano Fernandes via unanimous verdict last December.
At flyweight, Japan's Asuka “Riku Shibuya” Mikami (12-3-2) used front headlocks and guillotine choke attempts to freeze the Philippines' Eugene Toquero (7-2) for 15 minutes. Mikami never got especially close to a finish, but Toquero had absolutely no offense to speak of over three rounds, constantly extricating himself from Mikami's head and neck attacks.
In other undercard action: 22-year-old Malaysian Gianni Subba (6-1) earned an easy unanimous decision over Brazilian flyweight Almiro Barros (1-1), stuffing all the Brazilian's takedown attempts, while younger brother Keanu Subba (2-1) elbowed out France's Florian Garel at 4:51 of their featherweight contest; popular local Saiful Merican (4-2) knocked out fellow Malaysian bantamweight Melvin Yeoh (7-3) at 1:10 of the secound round; and welterweight Agilan Thani (3-0) got the night started for the partisan crowd, rear-naked choking Egypt's Hesham Hiba (2-3) at 3:05 of the opening round.