Khim Dima is still looking for his first international mixed martial arts win after suffering a heart-breaking split decision defeat at the hands of Saiful Merican in Kuala Lumpur on Friday night. The Cambodian came close but could only convince one of the three judges that he had done enough to win.
Dima and Merican had met before in the Kun Khmer ring in 2011 with the Malaysian losing by decision, but at ONE FC: War of Nations, which took place at the Stadium Putra on Friday, the roles were reversed.
The first round was spent with both fighters standing for the full five minutes, which should have suited Dima, but save for a few solid low kicks to the lead left leg of Merican he was unable to capitalise.
In the second stanza Merican, who tends to go the distance, began looking for a takedown and at one stage mounted Dima, but the Cambodian did a good job of tying him up and defending himself from any potential submission attempts or strikes.
The takedowns meant Merican was almost certainly ahead going into the third round but Dima didn’t fight with any sense of urgency, patiently waiting for an opportunity to present itself.
The approach almost paid off when he sliced his opponent open with a perfectly timed elbow.
Blood was pumping out of the Malaysian’s face but fortunately for him, the wound was to the side of the eye and after a brief pause while the doctor took a look at the damage the fight was allowed to continue.
Perhaps sensing he was still behind, Dima started to fight with some imminence and punished a failed takedown attempt from Merican by swinging kicks at his legs as he lay flat on his back on the canvas.
There was still time for the Malaysian to score with another takedown but with damage done being a key component of the ONE FC scoring criteria, where fights are judged overall rather than round by round, there was an argument to be made that the bloody-faced fighter had lost.
To the Cambodian’s disappointment, two of the three judges decided that Merican’s takedowns and positional control were worth more than Dima’s elbows and low kicks, meaning he is now 0-2-0-1 in MMA having not won a ONE FC fight in three attempts.
He clearly felt he had done enough to win, stating afterwards: “He never hurt me. I don’t have any marks on my body but he was cut so badly that the fight was nearly stopped, so I thought I had won because of that. I hope ONE FC will give me another chance as I train very hard at the A Fighter gym and really want to win an MMA fight for everyone in Cambodia.”
Merican’s record now stands at 3-1 after a third straight decision win. After going to war for three rounds on Friday, he donated a percentage of his winnings to his opponent to help rebuild Dima’s sister’s house, which was recently destroyed in a fire.
In the main event at ONE FC: War of Nations, Nobutatsu Suzuki scored an upset win over American veteran Brock Larson, with the hard hitting Japanese fighter landing numerous knees and kicks to become the inaugural ONE FC welterweight world champion courtesy of a unanimous decision.