High Fives: Three Title Fights, a Grand Prix Semifinal and a Disastrous Debut

By Guy Portman May 20, 2019
There was more than UFC Fight Night 152 to occupy the attention of mixed martial arts fans during the weekend of May 17-19. One Championship “Enter the Dragon” on Friday in Kallang, Singapore, boasted a title fight, an eagerly awaited promotional debut and a lightweight grand prix semifinal. Meanwhile, KSW 49 on Saturday in Gdansk, Poland, played host to two championship bouts.

TOPPLING A LEGEND … One Championship “Enter the Dragon” was headlined by a clash between lightweight champion Shinya Aoki and the 20-year-old Christian Lee. In the first round, Aoki came close to finishing with an armbar, but Lee escaped. The challenger came out for the second intent on keeping the action on the feet against the longtime jiu-jitsu black belt. A salvo of punches from Lee backed the Japanese veteran to the corner of the ring, and two subsequent left hands sent Aoki crumpling to the canvas. Lee immediately pounced with ground-and-pound until the referee called a halt to the beatdown 51 seconds into Round 2. In capturing the lightweight crown, Lee improved to 12-3. Aoki fell to 43-9.

DISASTROUS DEBUT … “Enter the Dragon” featured Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Sage Northcutt’s first appearance under the One banner, as he was paired with Cosmo Alexandre. The matchup between the two skilled strikers was in its infancy when Alexandre uncorked a right hand that connected and short circuited the American. Alexandre upped his record to 8-1 with the resounding 29-second knockout. Northcutt slipped to 11-3.

SEMIFINAL SUCCESS … Singapore’s Amir Khan faced Saygid Arslanaliev in the One Championship lightweight grand prix semifinals. The first round was nearing the three-minute mark when Arslanaliev unleashed a right hand that sent Khan reeling backwards. The Turk followed with two uppercuts and a left hook that resulted in the stoppage 2:56 into Round 1. Arslanaliev moved to 8-1 in qualifying for the tournament final. Khan dipped to 11-6.

A NEW KINGScott Askham fought Michal Materla for the vacant middleweight belt in the KSW 49 main event. The fight was a rematch of their KSW 42 clash, which saw Askham emerge victorious. This time, the Brit looked to use his height advantage and voluminous striking style to pour on the pressure on the feet. However, his shorter rival enjoyed some success with a period of sustained ground control in the first round and a knockdown in the second. As the bout wore on, Askham laid into the Pole with body kicks and punches. The finishing sequence in the third round commenced with a switch knee that hurt Materla. Askham then proceeded to throw punches and kicks at his ailing adversary before landing a right knee to the head that sent Materla tumbling to the mat 1:23 into Round 3. Askham rose to 18-4 while claiming the middleweight crown. Materla slid to 27-7.

WELTERWEIGHT WARRoberto Soldic defended his 170-pound strap against the unbeaten Krystian Kaszubowski at KSW 49. The early going was tentative, as both combatants looked to find their timing on the feet. However, the patient start soon gave way to a firefight, with champion and challenger throwing heavy punches at each other. The action was nearing the 90-second point when Kaszubowkski threw a right hand. Soldic countered with a left hook to the head that sent the Pole face first to the floor at the 1:25 mark of Round 1. Soldic, 24, lifted his record to 16-3, while Kaszubowski slipped to 7-1.
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