SINGAPORE: Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) representatives saw varied success on Saturday (June 17) at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) sophomore event.
Nine competitors out of a 12-bout lineup fought in their regional backyard at the Singapore Indoor Stadium - and three had their hands raised in victory while six slumped to losses.
In the preliminary bouts, a welterweight (77kg) contest saw Chinese hope Li Jingliang take a barnstorming decision win over Frank Camacho from the Northern Mariana Islands. The latter usually competes at lightweight and came in as late replacement at the start of the month for the injured Jonathan Meunier, but warmed up quickly and dropped Li within seconds of the opening bell.
But the Chinese prospect weathered the early pressure and stormed back to light his opponent up on the feet over the remaining two rounds, improving his record to 13 wins and four losses. Camacho drops to 20 wins and five losses.
Japanese flyweight (57kg) ace Ulka Sasaki also came up tops in a titillating battle with American Justin Scoggins. The latter, a karate black belt, looked to have the advantage on the feet but fell victim to Sasaki's slick grappling and tapped out to a rear-naked choke in the second round. Scoggins now holds 11 wins and four losses while Sasaki improves to 20 wins and four losses.
But his countryman and MMA pioneer Takanori Gomi, 38, extended his losing streak to four fights after being submitted by Guam’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz Jon Tuck. Their lightweight (70kg) encounter lasted just 72 seconds before Tuck hurt Gomi and took the fight to the ground where he sunk in an inescapable rear- naked choke.
Gomi walks away with 35 wins to his 13 losses while Tuck now holds 10 wins and four losses.
As the only Asian on the main card, South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim, 35, also fell victim to surging welterweight (77kg) prospect Colby Covington. The American collegiate wrestler, 29, suffocated his older foe on the ground and against the fence over all three rounds to take a decision victory.
Colvington’s record improves to 12 wins and one loss while judo black belt Kim drops to 22 wins and four losses.
South Korean standout Kwan Ho Kwak also suffered a surprise first-round technical knockout (TKO) loss at the hands of Honolulu native Russell Doane. Both bantamweights (61kg) came out swinging but it was Kwak who got clipped and when he dropped to his feet dazed, it was only a matter of time before the referee jumped in to halt Doane's barrage of punches.
The Hawaiian now possesses 15 wins and six losses while Kwak goes to nine wins and two losses.
His compatriot Ji Yeon Kim, making her UFC debut, tasted defeat for the first time with a unanimous decision loss to Lucie Pudilova of the Czech Republic. Their bantamweight encounter, which launched the night’s proceedings, was a feisty back-and-forth which could have gone either way. The crowd booed the final call but it is Kim who now goes to six wins and one loss while Pudilova, 23, improves to seven wins and two losses.
Another UFC debutant, Rolando Dy of the Philippines, lost by TKO (doctor stoppage) in a tough out against seasoned featherweight (65kg) Alex Caceres of the US. The Filipino - son of former boxing junior world champion Rolando Navarette - acquitted himself decently as a late replacement for injured Chinese fighter Wang Guan, but an eye injury left medical staff with no choice but to call off the bout after two rounds.
Caceres goes to 13 wins and 10 losses while Dy now holds eight wins and five losses.
Fellow Filipino Carls John de Tomas also dropped a decision to Naoki Inoue of Japan in a flyweight tilt between two promotional newcomers and fresh-faced 20-year-olds.
Despite giving up a 2kg advantage to de Tomas - who was fined 30 per cent of his purse for failing to make weight - Inoue outclassed his opponent on the ground to maintain his flawless record at 11 wins and no losses. The once-perfect De Tomas now holds six wins and one loss.