WHAT. A. FINALE! Japanese legend Shinya Aoki submits Eduard Folayang with a slick arm-triangle choke at 2:34 of Round 1 to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Title! @a_ok_i #WeAreONE #ANewEra #Tokyo #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/TnF59STQUH— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 31, 2019
TOKYO -- Longtime Japanese MMA star Shinya Aoki claimed the lightweight crown after making quick work of Eduard Folayang in the One Championship “A New Era” headliner at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugaikin Arena on Sunday. Aoki used an arm-triangle choke to render Folayang unconscious 2:34 into the opening stanza.
In the co-main event, Angela Lee made it a hard night’s work for Jingnan Xiong, but ultimately the reigning strawweight queen was able to retain her crown in a hard-fought battle. Lee appeared to be on the verge of victory in round four when she applied what looked to be a fight-ending armbar, but she was unable to get the finish.
The matchup was a back-and-forth battle that could have been anyone’s fight right until Xiong finished Lee at 1:37 into the fifth round by technical knockout. Xiong hurt Lee with a body shot early in the round to start the final flurry, and she continued to lay on the pressure with punches and kicks against the cage until referee Kemp Cheng jumped into save the Evolve MMA representative.
Elsewhere, Myanmar native Aung La N Sang was able to make it look easy against Ken Hasegawa, as he retained his light heavyweight belt with a TKO victory 4:41 into round two. The champion was never in trouble as he earned his sixth consecutive triumph.
Sang dominated from start to finish as he was able to pick Hasegawa apart with punches and landed some devastating right body kicks in the first round. The second round was much of the same, as “The Burmese Python” continued the onslaught and dropped Hasegawa with a straight right and followed up with heavy ground-and-pound for the finish.
At the conclusion of the bout, One heavyweight champion Brandon Vera entered the cage asked Sang for a shot at the light heavyweight belt when the promotion returns to Japan in October.
The bantamweight championship bout between Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandes ended in controversy after Belingon was disqualified in the third round for an illegal strike that left Fernandes unable to continue.
Fernandes started quickly by rocking Belingon on the feet and almost securing the finish via rear-naked choke, but Belingon was able to ride out the round. At the 1:21 mark of round two, Belingon landed an illegal elbow to the back of Fernandes’ head. After receiving five minutes to recover, Fernandes was still unable to continue and the fight ended there.
Demetrious Johnson makes a STATEMENT in his ONE debut, submitting Yuya Wakamatsu with a tight guillotine choke at 2:40 of Round 2! @MightyMouse #WeAreONE #ANewEra #Tokyo #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/K4yOpTfmQJ— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 31, 2019
Meanwhile, former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson was successful in his One debut with a submission finish of Japan’s Yuya Wakamatsu at 2:40 mark of round two in their flyweight grand prix quarterfinal matchup.
Wakmatsu made it a lot harder than expected for Johnson, as he used his reach to give the smaller man trouble. Johnson was dropped to a knee in the opening stanza but recovered to land a takedown and grind out to the end of the round. The second round started with Johnson taking a more active approach to his wrestling, and he was able to take Wakamatsu down and in a scramble lock the fight-ending guillotine choke.
Timofey Nastyukhin SHOCKS THE ! The Russian warrior knocks out Eddie Alvarez at 4:05 of Round 1 to advance in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix! #WeAreONE #ANewEra #Tokyo #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/YxUV0TSnFR— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 31, 2019
The biggest upset of the night came at the start of the main card, as Russian Timofey Nastyukhin finished former UFC and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez 4:05 into the opening round of their clash. Nastyukhin knocked Alvarez down and battered him on the ground for a technical knockout triumph.
Nastyukhin was able to beat Alvarez to the punch at every exchange and dropped “The Underground King” early in the first round. Alvarez was never able to fully regain his composure after that. With one minute left in the first round, Nastyukhin stumbled the former champ, dropped him against the fence and followed up with some ground-and-pound before the bout was halted.
Nastyukhin will move on to the semifinals of the One championship lightweight grand prix.
Earlier, Team Renzo Gracie product Gary Tonon continued his winning ways, as he finished Indonesia’s Anthony Engelen with ground-and-pound 4:12 into their 155-pound bout. All four of Tonon’s MMA triumphs have come inside the distance.
Tonon (4-0) wasted no time in getting Engelen down to the mat, as his opponent was unable to throw a strike before being planted on the canvas. From there, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt completely controlled the match with ground-and-pound from mount and back control until referee Yoshinori Umeki intervened on Engelen’s behalf.