This past Saturday Bangkok saw its second coming of ONE Championship’s MMA spectacle hitting the City of Angels. This time the company, whose co-founder is Thai, brought their biggest star with them and her defend her title for the first time in her career. The promotion of the event was mostly focused on her. Her face could be seen everywhere and she’s been hitting basically every show and been in every magazine (also on my-thai.org of course. Read the interview with Angela Lee here). A lot of pressure put on the 20 year old – youngest in the world – MMA champ. Therefore it was interesting to see whether she would excel or falter. I predicted a tough fight before but when I saw the champ entering with this self confident, sparkling smile I felt that nothing could go wrong that day for Unstoppable Angela Lee.
Before we go more into the main event let’s break down the whole event first though as there was more action to talk about.
Slot Machine rocks
After the prelims ended Thai super rock band Slot Machine took to the stage and rocked the – still rather empty – building. I’m not the biggest fan of Thai music (while I do have some Thai bands that I really like) and I’ve seen them last 3 years ago (at Sonic Bang festival) and wasn’t really excited about it, they improved and changed quite a bit and now put on a pretty cool performance. Too bad that the crowd wasn’t in the arena yet – but that’s what you have to expect in Thailand. When you say it starts 6.30, the crowd shows up at 8. Overall a pretty good performance and I’m glad they still gave it their all even though the crowd was smaller than what they are used to from their concerts. If everything goes well we will have them on here on my-thai.org before they are hitting the US market (yes, they’re going to tour the US) later this year. You can already look forward to that!
MA JIA WEN VS. YOHAN MULIA LEGOWO
This featherweight bout started rather slow as they were the first fight on the main card and one could feel the tension in the cage as nobody wanted to be the first one to make a mistake. After around 1.30 in the first round they eventually touched and then started a bit of a back and forth. Ma was clearly the fitter and more aggressive fighter though and while Legowo got some brief offensive moves in it was Ma who convincingly took home the TKO win in round 2 via ref stoppage. Slow start but good finish. Nice way to kick off the show!
Winner: Ma Jia Wen, TKO, R2
SAGETDAO PETPAYATHAI VS. KELVING ONG
The first fight with a Thai fighter in it so expectations and pressure were high but Sagetdao seemed confident from his Muay Thai style entrance on. Ong showed some offense in the very beginning, or at least he tried and even connected slightly, but it was all the Thai fighter who landed more impressive strikes (and knees!) and didn’t leave any doubt on who would walk out victorious tonight. The finish then came pretty soon, even before the bell of the first round could help the Malaysian fighter to make it into his corner for a short break. Second fight, second finish. First round TKO due to ref stoppage. Sagetdao’s Muay Thai was simply to much. The ‘Deadly Star’ then got a quick interview in the cage where he put over how important it is for him to fight in his home of Thailand and that he’s very proud of his heritage and that he won’t stop until he’s champ. Ovations for getting the crowd hyped.
Winner: Sagetdao Petpayathai, TKO, R1
RIKA ISHIGE VS. AUDREYLAURA BONIFACE
This was probably the second most anticipated fight of the night. Rika Ishige, the half Thai, half Japanese, local MMA star in the making was about to make her pro MMA debut on a very big stage at Impact Arena tonight. She also received a more special treatment by ONE as it seems they want her to become a big draw here in Thailand (and quite likely also in Japan, I would assume). She did lots of promo work before, did all the local shows and even had a very special entrance prepared. She came in what looked like a power ranger outfit – complete with helmet and did some power ranger moves and even fought of a ‘villain’ who attacked her on stage. Confidence right there. After such an intro you gotta win or you look stupid. So the pressure was on.
The fight started without hesitation and women, it seems, don’t touch gloves. Aggression from the get go and a really nice back and forth. Boniface showed some really good offensive moves and had Ishige in some trouble early on. Now when looking at the result that might sound a bit off but the audience was pretty silent for a short time as Boniface seemed to have locked in a submission hold rather tight. Ishige however fought through, the crowd went wild and cheered her on, and we saw some more back and forth grappling that looked really painful for both ends. In the end it was Ishige who fought her way onto full mount and then just drove it home with strikes and elbows to the head until the ref had to stop it.
Fantastic fight, great showing by both competitors and quite likely a star-making debut by Rika Ishige.
Winner: Rika Ishige, TKO, R1
YODSANAN SITYODTONG VS. RAMON GONZALES
Finally we got “Little Tyson” in action. A former world boxing champion who is SUPER famous here in Thailand eventually got to fight back in his home after transitioning into MMA. The first round, however, belonged to Ramon Gonzales who came out steaming. Holy smokes. He showed off some fancy spinning kicks and even seemed to want to trade strikes and kicks with the former boxing champ but when the opening was there he shot in and took him down and tortured the local hero. Little Tyson was in a submission hold for the majority of the first round and the crowd had to give it their all to cheer their hero on until the bell could save him from this grueling submission hold by Gonzales (who should have tried harder to choke him out).
Who expected round two to go similar, would be proven wrong. Yodsanan came out determined not to go down again. Gonzales had a few take down attempts but Yodsanan fought them off well and eventually was able to connect with some devastating hands and even got into something like half mount and blasted away with punches to Gonzales’ head. Why the ref didn’t stop is anybody’s guess. Yodsanan, at one point, stood there with Gonzales on the ground not knowing what to do as Gonzales clearly wasn’t able to get up anymore. The ref pulled Gonzales up and let the fight continue. Again, why remains anybody’s guess. Yodsanan struck him down again almost seemed puzzled as of why the fight wasn’t already stopped. The massacre then ended when the ref asked Gonzales to get up again but he simply couldn’t do that. Therefore this is fight ended by ‘submission’ and Gonzales even had to be stretchered out. Again, referee, what the heck? That was fucking dangerous. Good showing by Yodsanan though, fighting through the tough first round to finish strong. Respect.
Winner: Yodsanan Sityodtong, Submission, R2
DEJDAMRONG SOR AMNUAYSIRICHOKE VS. JOSHUA PACIO
The old man and the
sea cage. Kru Rong (Interview with Dejdamrong here) who lost his title back when ONE Championship debuted in Thailand wanted to bounce back with a win over a 17 year younger opponent. A battle of the ages so to speak. Kru Rong seemed to be well prepared but so did Pacio and, what actually seemed to be impressive, was the strategy of the Pacio camp that seemed to have studied Kru Rong quite well. The first two rounds where almost identical. Pacio stood with Kru Rong in the beginning, seeming to be willing to go one on one in Muay Thai. He did land some good kicks but you, obviously, don’t just out Muay Thai the master. So Kru Rong, of course, landed some nice shots by himself but just when he seemed to get confident in his Muay Thai Pacio would catch his leg and take him down. In both rounds in identical manner. Smart but also a bit disappointing to see Kru Rong making the same mistake twice.
So Pacio took Kru Rong down and tried to submit him but as this is how he lost the title he didn’t want to tap ever again and the crowd showed him all the support possible and he fought through it, twice. So we got the first fight to go into round 3.
In the final round we got more of an open exchange and when you go trade strikes and kicks with a Muay Thai legend such as Kru Rong you really need a perfect day to win. Pacio did a good job and had Kru Rong cut but overall this led to Kru Rong taking home this round. Pacio was close to getting KO’ed in the end it seemed but Kru Rong just wasn’t able to pull the trigger which lead to the first judges decision of the evening (which is weird as the judges weren’t mentioned by name and they didn’t give scores but only said which corner won – that’s a bit weird, change that, ONE Championship! More transparency please!).
Winner: Joshua Pacio, Decision, 2:1 (should be 3:0 as Kru Rong only won the last round).
SHANNON WIRATCHAI VS. RICHARD CORMINAL
Enter the Show Man! Just like his real life girlfriend, Rika Ishige, Shannon came in being all show and performing some act of monster fighting or whatever that was. I appreciate entertainment but what the heck. That came across a bit arrogant. Same with the fighter intro in the cage. He did some weird moves and shit before the fight started. Disrespectful in my opinion but what gives. He probably knew about the abilities of his opponent. Having that said, the opponent, Richard Corminal, was no match at all. He also didn’t look fit or well trained at all. I don’t know if he was out of his weight class or anything like that but the fight itself was boring as Wiratchai dominated from the beginning and started show boating rather soon. He connected with a few hard hands but the finish, after jumping knee that didn’t connect, seemed a bit weird. Probably ’cause the pain took a bit to set in from the shots prior I guess. The ref had to stop this one sided bout in Round 1.
Winner: Shannon Wiratchai, TKO, R1
Atomweight Championship Fight: ANGELA “UNSTOPPABLE” LEE VS. JENNY “UNPREDICTABLE” HUANG
When reading about this fight first and checking out both fighters it seemed obvious that Angela Lee would have some advantages. Seeing both facing off and realizing how much taller (8 cm) Angela Lee was it became even clearer, that would be a terrible mismatch and uphill battle for the challenger. Adding to this that Angela Lee is a beast (in the most positive sense possible) and an incredible athlete Jenny Huang seemed outclassed from the get go. Team Lady Gogo (named after Jenny’s awesome gogoplata win in her last fight) figured that Angela’s weakness would be her striking so they decided to take it to her stand up style. With 8cm to give it’s obviously difficult to get into striking distance and Angela, apparently knowing that her opponents would try to do that, was more than prepared for it and showed some, until now, unseen striking and kicking, dare I say Muay Thai, skills to the entertainment of the Thai audience.
The fight itself was pretty one way and Angela dominated from the very beginning. Props to Jenny for not giving up and going out before since she really took a lot (A LOT) of shots where it hurt. She also showed some smart head movement as long as possible but still was then starting to bleed and also seemed to have problems with her contact lenses during the break. She still tried to bust out some desperation moves like a spinning back elbow and superman punch but, again, she couldn’t cut the distance and Angela Lee simply blocked her off and continued to show her improve stand-up skills. She lit up Jenny Huang as she wanted and might have been able to finish her off sooner but she stayed calm, not giving her opponent any chance to counter and knew it was only a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ she would be victorious. This moment then came in the 3rd round when she had Jenny on the ground and simply unloaded on her until the ref stepped in and stopped it.
Winner: AND STILL! Angela, Unstoppable, Lee, TKO, R3
Overall a good event with some cool action. The match-ups could have been a bit more equal (especially Wiratchai & Angela) but nevertheless the event delivered and here’s to hoping that Thais start to care more about MMA (and female fighting) as the big Impact Arena wasn’t completely sold out which shows that in the country of Muay Thai MMA still isn’t as highly regarded as elsewhere. ONE certainly is on a good way though and I’m already looking forward to their next event here at the end of the year.
Latest posts by Sascha Funk (see all)
- Spoilers for Tham Luang Cave Rescue movie - July 15, 2018
- Disaster? Shh! Mai pen rai! – Why Thailand remains quiet about disasters - July 12, 2018
- Thailand’s SOTUS problem - July 11, 2018