Regian Eersel is still the ONE Championship lightweight kick-boxing champion, but his latest title defence was certainly the most difficult of his reign so far. The Surinamese-Dutchman, 29, returned to action in the main event of ONE 156 on Friday evening in Singapore, taking on 27-year-old German challenger Arian Sadikovic. While Eersel ultimately left the Circle with a newly designed title belt slung over his shoulder, his night almost ended in disaster, as he was flattened by a Sadikovic knee in round two. “That was a really good strike,” he said in his post-fight interview with Mitch Chilson, admitting he lost vision in his left eye for “a few seconds” after the blow. “But I still got a win.” Eersel flaunted plenty of veteran poise as he recovered from the knee, cranking up his offence in an effort to regain control of the fight. Yet Sadikovic was competitive for the duration, firing off some particularly impactful strikes in the fifth and final round. The pair left the judges with an unenviable task on their hands, but it was ultimately Eersel who got his hand raised – with an unmistakable look of relief on his face. ONE 156: teenager Sundell claims strawweight Muay Thai title “I had to dig deep,” he said. “My respect to Arian, my opponent. He’s a warrior. I think he will be champion one day. “Thank you Arian for the opportunity. I have a lot work on.” While Eersel barely scraped by Sadikovic, his championship mettle earned him a US$50,000 bonus courtesy of ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “I just had a baby three months ago so I can really use the money,” he said. The victory marks Eersel’s fourth defence of the ONE lightweight kick-boxing title. He is now tied with strawweight MMA champion Joshua Pacio and former featherweight MMA champion Martin Nguyen for the fifth-most championship victories in ONE history. The Surinamese-Dutchman has now won 19 consecutive fights spanning a period of more than six years. The loss is Sadikovic’s first in ONE Championship, after defeating Mustapha Haida by decision in his promotional debut late last year.