ONE FC: War of Dragons, the MMA organisation’s debut event in Taiwan, whipped fans into a frenzy on Friday night at the NTU Sports Center in Taipei with a dazzling display of intense, world-class action.
In the ferocious headlining contest, Eric “The Natural” Kelly of the Philippines turned in a tremendous technical performance to defeat Australian featherweight “Ruthless” Rob Lisita by submission in the second round.
Despite profusely bleeding from a broken nose after the first round saw both fighters trade heavy blows in the clinch, Kelly was able to show why he is held in such high regard by securing the rear naked choke he had been working on the entire match, forcing Lisita to tap out.
The Filipino’s night got even better with the announcement that he had scooped the promotion’s inaugural ONE Warrior Bonus – which carries a $50,000 cash prize – and had been introduced by ONE FC chief executive Victor Cui just days prior.
In the co-main event of the evening, Koji Ando of Japan handed Brazilian lightweight Rafael Nunes the first loss of his career via a first-round rear naked choke submission.
Also on the card, Japanese bantamweight Koetsu Okazaki overcame a dominant first round by Yusup Saadulaev of Russia to win by referee stoppage in the second.
Former American college wrestler Jake Butler had his elite skills out for all to see, as he battered Egyptian light heavyweight Mohamed Ali, grounding and pounding to victory in the third round.
In one of the night’s bloodiest bouts, hometown heavyweight hero Paul Cheng and Egypt’s Mahmoud Hassan rained down strikes on each other for two full rounds, with both looking dazed going into the third and Cheng’s right eye almost completely closed up.
However, Hassan indicated to the referee that he couldn’t continue, citing pain in his ribs, to give Cheng the win by verbal submission.
The eagerly anticipated rematch between heavyweights Chi Lewis Parry of England and Cameroon’s Alain Ngalani ended with the towering Brit sending his opponent to sleep with a vicious elbow in side control near the end of the opening round.
Taiwanese fans were treated to two more of their compatriots completing home wins on Friday.
Sung Ming Yen was clinical in his grappling against Singaporean bantamweight Nicholas Lee, taking just over a minute to succeed with a guillotine choke.
And welterweight Jeff Huang overcame a spirited performance by his opponent Bala Shetty of India to win by TKO midway through round one.
With Taiwan’s Zhang Zheng Jie failing his pre-fight medical, teammate Eliot Corley stepped in at the last minute to take on Malaysian lightweight Rayner Kinsiong.
Corley showcased his solid Muay Thai knowledge to make light work of Kinsiong, landing body kicks, punches and an elbow over the top before the referee waved it off in the first round.
Featherweight Nathan Ng of Hong Kong also dictated terms in the night’s opening bout by submitting France’s Florian Garel with a Head and Arm Choke after 1:23.