High Fives: Celestial Combat

By Guy Portman Jul 9, 2018
“The Ultimate Fighter 27” Finale and UFC 226 were not the only items on the MMA menu during the weekend of July 6-8.

On the other side of the Pacific, One Championship “Battle for the Heavens” hosted some important matchups on Saturday in Guangzhou, China. The event was a mix of MMA and kickboxing-style contests. Here are five of the highlights from the MMA portion of the card:

GRAPPLING FEST … A flyweight scrap between Australia’s Reece McLaren and Japan’s Tatsumitsu Wada headlined “Battle for the Heavens.” The match was fought for the most part on the mat. The Japanese pugilist had his moments, including some effective ground-and-pound in the first round, but it was McLaren’s wrestling, particularly his takedowns, that led to his being giving the nod by split decision. In victory, McLaren, now 12-5, solidified his position as the promotion’s No. 1 contender at flyweight. Wada dropped to 19-9-2.

FRENETIC FIGHT … Also under the One Championship flag, China’s Changxin Fu squared off against Kazakhstan’s Rustem Ensebayev in a catchweight bout at 146.6 pounds. It was frenetic from the start, with both fighters exchanging heavy punches and kicks. Ensebayev was getting the better of it, but that all changed when they hit the canvas. The end came via ground-and-pound from side control at the 4:32 mark of the first round. The triumphant Fu upped his record to 7-1, while Ensebayev, now 1-8, has lost eight straight.

STANDUP AFFAIR … In One Championship female atomweight action, Brazilian Istela Nunes faced Filipina Gina Iniong. The contest was played out on the feet, with muay Thai world champion Nunes displaying her impressive striking skills en route to a dominant decision win. Nunes, who moved to 6-1, put distance between herself and her loss to Angela Lee at One Championship “Dynasty of Heroes” in May 2017. In defeat, Iniong slipped to 7-4.

FIGHT-ENDING FLURRY … One Championship’s event featured an eagerly awaited bantamweight showdown between Japan’s Shuya Kamikubo and Indonesia’s Sunoto Peringkat. The majority of the duel took place on the mat, where the Japanese fighter proved to be utterly dominant. The finish came 3:54 into Round 2 via sustained Kamikubo ground-and-pound from mount. With the win, “Stealth” moved to 8-1, while Peringkat fell to 9-4.

GOODNIGHT GUILLOTINE … In One Championship featherweight action, Zhikang Zhao squared off against fellow countryman Xudong Ma. Zhao looked impressive throughout, utilizing his height advantage on the feet and scoring multiple takedowns. In the third frame, Zhao grabbed a guillotine choke from a standing position before pulling guard and continuing to squeeze. The referee, seeing that Ma was out cold, called off the fight at the 1:08 mark. In victory, Zhao moved to 11-3. “Tank” dropped to 1-1.

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