Adriano Moraes ends two years of pain with victory over Kairat Akhmetov in Macau clash
In undercard, Filipina Jomary Torres dashes the hopes of Japanese-Thai Rika Ishige in a women’s atomweight showdown
Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes put almost two years of disappointment to bed on Saturday night at the One: Kings & Conquerers event in Macau, wresting the One Championship world flyweight title from Kairat Akhmetov at the Cotai Arena.
It was Akhmetov who in November 2015 had lifted the flyweight belt after a hotly disputed split decision when the pair had first met, and Moraes flatly refused to believe he had lost the bout. The pain lingered long.
This time around there was no doubt at all about how the fight would be scored, not by the fighters, nor the fans, nor those men with the pens in their hands.
“I’m not surprised,” said Moraes. “Thanks to my family, to my friends and I will keep this simple. Thanks to everyone.”
The 28-year-old Brazilian’s fight plan worked to perfection as he never allowed his Kazak opponent to work the takedowns that had proved effective the first time the pair met in Beijing.
And Moraes (now 16-2) was in control when the fighters stood their ground, consistently throwing long-range bombs, and then forcing the issue in the clutches, as he handed Akhmetov his first ever loss. The Kazak is now 23-1 and no doubt looking for a third edition of what has developed into a fascinating rivalry.
The bout was the co-main event on an action-packed 12-fight One: Kings and Conquerors card, with the Singapore-based organisation’s world bantamweight world champion Bibiano “The Flash” Ferndandes, of Brazil, making short work of American challenger Andrew Leone.
There was a suspicion that he hit leone at liver level as the pair fell to the canvas early and Fernandes pounced, wrapping Leone up and laying down a rear naked choke hold that ended things at 1.47 of the first.
“I feel great,” said Fernandes. “I am happy here at the One Championship. Fighting is what I do and I fighter is what I am.”
It was the seventh time Fernandes (21-3) has defended a title he has made well and truly his own. Leone looked aggrieved and fell to 8-3.
Earlier, Chen “Rock Man” Lei was bloodied, the bout was at times brutal, but the rising Chinese star remains unbeaten in the One Championship bantamweight division after a victory over Malaysia’s Saiful Merican on Saturday night in Macau.
In an undercard bout of the 12-fight One: Kings & Conquerers, the 28-year-old from Changsha brought the packed Cotai Arena to its feet as they thrilled to a “local” hero who only seems to bring one plan to any party. Attack.
“I had done my homework on my opponent and I knew I would be stronger,” said a patched-up Chen afterwards.
He had taken some big punches and forearms above his eyes and the bout was stopped twice so the cage-side doctor to stem the flowing claret.
“It was a very tough fight,” said Chen. “I knew it would be but I really felt like this was my home town. Every since I arrived in Macau, it felt like home to me and the fans really helped me tonight.”
Chen came out firing big shots, consistently threw his opponent to the canvas and finally got an arm bar to work at 3.58 of the third and final round to take the win and go to 3-0 with the One organisation and 6-0 overall in mixed martial arts. There’s been a similar move at the end of the second that looked to be laid on right on the bell and it looked to unsettle Merican, who had glanced with disbelief at the referee.
Chen leaned heavily on a ground game that once took him to a Shanghai Open Brazilian jiu-jitsu title, smothering Merican who still landed some shots from his back but looked gone for all money when bracing himself for the third round.
He held on manfully until near the death but was out of juice, and overpowered.
“I realise this is only a very early stage of my career with One,” said Chen. “But I improved from my last fight, I think my skills are improving each time I get in the cage.”
While Chen’s massive support in the arena was expected, the surprise early in the night was just how huge the Philippine posse was – in voice at least – as they cheered Jomary Torres to victory over one of the One organisation’s big hopes in Rika Ishige in an atomweight clash, also on the undercard.
Again, it was all about power as the Filipina damaged Ishige early and “Tinydoll” never fully recovered from the shots she took and in then end tapped out to a rear naked choke hold at 1.58 of the second. And so it’s 2-0 for Torres and a bright future, and back to the gym for Ishige at 2-1.