Team Lakay entered the year four ONE Championship titles, all they got now are two rematches in hopes of reclaiming two of them as Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon relinquished their title in abbreviated finishes last March 31, 2019 in Japan.
The end came swift for Folayang as he was literally put to sleep by Shinya Aoki at the 2:34 mark of the first round forcing him to give up his ONE Flyweight title back to the Japanese in a rematch that served as the night’s main event.
Both men exchanged strikes at the round’s onset when Aoki found an opening to execute a body lock that eventually took Folayang to the mat. It didn’t take long from there for the challenger to finish the fight with what he was known for, grappling.
The challenger capped his revenge by an arm triangle at the 2:34 mark of the first round that had the “Landslide” pass out. Adding spice the Japanese’ epic night was the fact that it happened in front of hometown crowd in Tokyo, Japan.
Aoki joins Folayang as a two-time Lightweight champion, He took possession of the crown on April, 2013, defended it twice, and ruled the division for the longest time before yielding it to Folayang on November, 2016. His first reign as champion was, by far, the longest among ONE lightweight title holders.
The loss drops Folayang’s MMA career record to 21-7 while Aoki improves his to 43-8, who is setting his sights on Christian Lee as his next victim.
On the other hand, Belingon was in similar circumstances, facing a familiar adversary, Bibiano Fernades, also in a rematch and gave back the title without full completion of the bout.
As in their previous two matches, both were involved in furious exchanges. Belingon got the better of the strike exchanges while Fernandes won the battle of the grappling.
Belingon seemed to have the upper hand early in the first round as he reversed a takedown attempt and connecting with Team Lakay’s patented spinning kicks. Fernandes countered with an overhand right later in the round and took the champion’s back.
The same pattern followed in the second with Belingon connecting properly timed punches and spinning kicks and Fernandes countering with a takedown late in the round.
Fernandes again had the champion on his back in the third round to which Belingon countered with elbows in an effort to reverse the submission move. One of them, however, inadvertently struck the back of the challenger’s head.
After an injury timeout, the Brazilian was deemed unable to continue. As a result, Belingon was issued a red card and disqualified, handing Fernandes was the ONE Bantamweight title.
ONE championship, however, was quick to announce a rematch due to the ending that resulted to a dubious winner. This is the second rematch ordered after the Joshua Pacio-Yosuke Saruta strawweight title rematch in ONE: Roots of Honor set on April 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Pacio lost the title last January 20 on a controversial decision.
Meanwhile Danny “The King” Kingad carried the flag for the gym and the country as he continued his run of delivering show-stealing bouts by hacking out a unanimous decision win against Senzo Ikeda.
His victory propelled him to the semi-finals of the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, with a possibility of facing Demetrious Johnson, who submitted Yuya Wakamatsu via guillotine choke in round two of their bout.
Both men started the bout with furious exchanges. Kingad followed this up with three takedowns, that were all reversed by his Japanese rival. Both ended the round with hard exchanges to cap the wild first round.
Both fighters got back at going at each other on their feet to start the second, however, becoming more selective with their strikes. Kingad absorbed a shot that got him on the run but used it brilliantly to sneak in a double leg takedown against the tailing Ikeda.
Kingad went on to execute another takedown later that round. Both takedowns were revered by Ikeda.
Kingad, sensing he is ahead in the judges scorecards, came in the third with a plan of firing leg kicks and countering and it worked to perfection. Kingad’s brilliant counters in the fourth was what probably lock in the win without doubts.
In one instance, he made Ikeda pay by making his flying knee attempt missed and met his face by a right hand. In another, Kingad converted an Ikeda lunging right to connection of a combination to the face and two knees to the midsection.
In still another instance, Kingad converted an Ikeda on his back to an overhead takedown. In yet another instance, a lunging Ikeda was met by a spinning elbow, 20 seconds to go in the round.
The victory was Kinagd’s fifth win in a row, improving his record to 13-1. He will face, Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov, who dispatched Reece McLaren earlier in the night, in the semifinals.
By: ARMANDO BOLISLIS