After a two-day span that featured back-to-back UFC shows, few could've expected one of last weekend's most enduring images to have come from halfway across the world. But then again, few could have foreseen an image as primal as Zorobabel Moreira's soccer kick knockout of Roger Huerta at ONE FC 4.
Moreira, a decorated jiu-jitsu champion, was well on his way to a second-round victory over the fading American, who was badly battered and surprisingly outclassed in the stand-up game. Huerta valiantly fought back, but was soon out on his feet after eating another unanswered salvo of strikes, in a scene eerily reminiscent of Joe Warren's loss to Pat Curran.
His opponent crumpled on the mat on all fours, Moreira, along with ringside announcer Renzo Gracie, believed the fight was over, as Huerta was clearly no longer capable of defending himself. Yet referee Yuji Shimada gave no signal of a stoppage.
"I stopped to look at the referee," Moreira explained to MMAFighting.com.
"He was yelling ‘low kick' to me. After he yelled it, I kicked."
What ensued was a moment ripped straight from Pride Fighting Championships. Moreira reluctantly threw the soccer kick, it connected on Huerta's skull with a sickening thwack, and "El Matador" collapsed in a heap. The fight was over.
ONE FC's rule set combines the North American unified rules with the soccer kicks and stomps of Pride, however fighters must wait for a referee's open attack signal before using the more violent maneuvers on downed opponents. Though in Huerta's case, the potential for soccer kicks should have never come into play, if not for sloppy refereeing.
"I did not want to throw the kick," Moreira confessed. "I thought the referee was going to stop the fight. But when he yelled ‘low kick' to me, I kicked. It was reflex.
"I was hoping the referee was going to stop the fight. But my coaches train us to finish the fight and they tell all of us don't stop until the referee stops the fight."
Several fighters, Moreira included, have expressed their love of ONE FC's mishmash rule set, which harkens back to glory days of Asian MMA, and "Zoro" affectionately calls, "the best rules." Yet while the visceral nature of the knockout has essentially overshadowed what was the best performance of the Brazilian's career, Moreira tries not to concern himself with headlines.
"I don't know how to read English very well," he said. "Some people have told me about the news of the KO. I read most the Brazilian websites. I don't spend much time on the Internet. I stay in the academy at Evolve MMA all day."
As for Huerta, Moreira has yet to speak to the 29-year-old since their co-main event clash, however ONE FC founder Victor Cui confirmed he is fully recovered from the knockout blow.
"Victor Cui told me that Roger was 100-percent fine the next day already," a relieved Moreira revealed. "Roger is a tough guy. I wish him the best in everything."
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