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Martial arts

Hong Kong’s Just MMA gets off to an explosive start with upsets, brawling rugby players and a 16-second knockout

A lively inaugural card sees headliner Mario ‘Pimba’ Schembri make light work of his Filipino opponent

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 10:44am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 10:15pm

New mixed martial arts promotion Just MMA’s inaugural Hong Kong card ended with a jaw-dropping finale after event headliner Mario “Pimba” Schembri took only 16 seconds to knock Filipino Jeff Bairon out cold on Friday evening.

The Brazilian, whose professional record now stands at 30-5, released a devastating flying knee before avoiding any ambiguity with a barrage of punches. He then took to the microphone and yelled, “I’m going for a pizza because I’m very hungry. Thanks Hong Kong!” much to the delight of the Wan Chai Southorn Stadium crowd.

“Tonight was perfect,” said the 31-year-old who fights out of Phoenix Fight Club in Hong Kong. “It felt good to be in the main event and I don’t have any scratches so I’m ready to fight again.”

Schembri – a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu – has an overwhelming percentage of wins via submission but insisted the knock out was no fluke.

“I’m a black belt and always use my jiu-jitsu, but I also always use my knee. My corner knows it and I actually told them that I’d use it today,” said Schembri, who towered over his opponent. “He’s a short guy and if you watch my videos, you’ll see I always start with my knees.”

He did, however, admit the finish came earlier than expected.

“I trained for three rounds. The truth is I didn’t want this fight to finish short, but it means I am OK to fight again in January.”

The Just MMA top brass will surely call on Schembri’s services again after such a dominant performance. Having lived in Hong Kong for over two years, he welcomes the opportunity with open arms.

“I’m from Brazil but I’m living in Hong Kong – I love it here,” he said, pointing to his Hong Kong Bauhinia cap.

Rugby players out to ‘smash each other’ in the name of charity at Just MMA’s inaugural Hong Kong mixed martial arts event

Schembri’s performance topped off a mixed bag of fights with very few local fighters coming out on top. Hong Kong favourite Tony Chu was left dazed on the canvas from a Zhang Guangtong right hook, while local boy Nosh Khanzada fell victim to South Korean Kim Ryul’s ground and pound.

The card got off to a flier with a charity amateur fight between rugby players Jack Nielsen and Mark Mooney, the former securing a second round TKO victory.

“It was brutal,” said Mooney post-fight. “Those punches were like stingrays – massive respect.”

Another fan favourite was France’s Marc Guyon, who defeated Macau’s Adunsak Rangmard via decision.

Can newcomer Just MMA kick-start Hong Kong’s ailing cage-fighting scene? New organisation aims to showcase local fighters

American Andrea Erikson made quick work of Korean Kim Gyu Ri in the promotion’s only female bout.

The biggest surprise came from heavily hyped Kim In Su – who travelled to the city to improve on his 7-0 record – but was halted by Brazil’s Leandro Rodrigues after a masterclass on the ground.