UFC 229 may have hogged the headlines during the weekend of Oct. 5-7, but there were a number of other meaningful matchups in promotions outside the Ultimate Fighting Championship. One Championship “Kingdom of Heroes” on Saturday in Bangkok played host to some dramatic finishes, and the heavyweight title was on the line at KSW 45 in London.
SUBMISSION SUCCESS … The One Championship main event was a lightweight matchup between Japan’s Shinya Aoki and New Zealand’s Ev Ting. Having secured a double-leg takedown, Aoki landed in side control with his grounded opponent hanging on to his neck for dear life from the bottom. When Aoki transitioned to mount and then back to side control, Ting kept clinging to the submission specialist’s neck, which proved to be ill-advised. Aoki used the hold to set up his winning arm-triangle choke. Seeing that Ting had been rendered unconscious, the referee stopped the fight 57 seconds into Round 1. In victory, Aoki moved to 42-8, with 26 of those wins (62 percent) coming via submission. Next up for “Tobikan Judan” is a shot at the promotion’s lightweight strap. Ting slipped to 16-5 in defeat.
LIGHTS OUT … In supporting One Championship action, Tajikistan’s Muin Gafurov squared off with Brazilian veteran Leandro Issa in a bantamweight showdown. It was anticipated that the bout would be a closely contested affair, but halfway through the first stanza, Gafurov connected with a blistering right hand to the head. Issa collapsed to his knees before plunging face first to the canvas. The official time of the knockout was 2:24 of Round 1. With the spectacular finish, “Tajik” upped his record to 16-2. All 16 of his wins have been finishes. The loss saw Issa fall to 16-7.
CHOKE JOB … Japan’s Hayato Suzuki met Robin Catalan of the Philippines in a strawweight clash under the One Championship banner. In the second frame, Suzuki, having taken his adversary’s back on the mat, attempted a rear-naked choke from top position. He then rolled to his side and finally to his back, where he adjusted his arm position and continued to squeeze. Catalan hung tough but was eventually forced to bow out at the 3:43 mark of Round 2. Suzuki improved to 19-1-2, while Catalan dropped to 8-4.
TITLE DEFENSE … At KSW 45, England’s Philip De Fries defended his heavyweight crown against Polish challenger Karol Bedorf. The champion dominated the encounter from the get-go. In the first round, De Fries brutalized the Pole with heavy ground-and-pound from top position in half guard. Late in the second stanza, De Fries vanquished his rival with a keylock secured from side control, which forced Bedorf to tap at the 4:26 mark. In retaining his title on home soil, onetime UFC heavyweight De Fries rose to 16-6. Twelve of his 16 victories have come by way of submission. In defeat, Bedorf dipped to 15-4.
BRUTAL BEATDOWN … KSW 45 also featured an eagerly awaited middleweight clash between Poles Michal Materla and Damian Janikowski. The finish came when Materla countered a wild Janikowski right hand with a long, high left hook, which dropped his fellow Pole to the seat of his pants. After landing a massive right hand on his downed opponent, Materla continued dishing out punishment in the form of heavy left hands. Janikowski, who was turtled on all fours, offered no resistance, and the referee was left with no choice but to call off the fight 3:10 into the first frame. With the TKO, Materla moved to 27-6. It marked the first defeat of Janikowski’s career, as the Olympic bronze medalist dropped to 3-1.