Asia’s premier mixed martial arts promotion, One Fighting Championship, put on a spectacular fight night dubbed Rise of Kings on Saturday that had the knowledgeable crowd on their feet.
As the dust settled at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Japan’s Koetsu “No Face” Boku and Soo Chul Kim of South Korea sat atop the lightweight and bantamweight divisions respectively.
Both men were heavy underdogs leading into their bouts, but managed to pull off upset victories against highly touted Brazilian opponents to claim brand new title belts.
Soo faced Leonardo Issa in a rematch from a year ago.
Issa used superior wrestling to dominate in the last fight, but Soo came out on Saturday clearly prepared and defended most of Issa’s early takedowns.
Soo threw a overhand right that landed flushed on the Brazilian as he was coming in, and followed up with elbows and punches that forced the referee to jump in and stop the fight.
At just 20 years old, Soo Chul Kim looks like a potential superstar in the bantamweight division.
Boku was matched against Zorobabel Moreira, who was riding a five-fight winning streak leading into the contest.
Moreira had a significant size and reach advantage, and he used it to pepper Boku’s legs with ferocious kicks.
Moreira was clearly the dominant fighter and Boku looked to be fading when he landed a textbook punch that had his opponent on wobbly legs.
Boku was relentless in his follow up punches that gave Moreira no time to recover, and the fight was stopped at 32 seconds into round 3.
The main event was a lopsided affair as grappling champion and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Shinya Aoki took his French opponent Arnaud Lepont down almost instantly and proceeded to work his world-class submissions, leading to a triangle choke after a mere 1 minute and 25 seconds.
Two inside leg kicks by China’s Zhao Ya Fei unfortunately struck former world champion Jens Pulver illegally in the pelvic region, with the second kick particularly vicious.
The American was left unable to continue and had to be stretchered off.
Despite the injury, Pulver was judged to be winning the bout and progresses to the semifinals of the Bantamweight Grand Prix, where he will be joined by Kevin Belignon of the Philippines and Japan’s Masakatsu Ueda, who also notched up victories on the night.
Gerald Ng reporting from Singapore