Shinya Aoki wrapped up a night of quick finishes with another gem of his own, as the ONE FC lightweight champion effortlessly submitted former UFC fighter Kamal Shalorus with a first-round rear-naked choke to retain his title in the main event of ONE FC 19, which took place Friday at Dubai's World Trade Centre.
Aoki (36-6, 1 NC) tripped his foe early, then worked his way into full mount while Shalorus (9-4-2) desperately clung to Aoki's neck. Once Aoki freed himself, he wasted little time latching onto Shalorus' back and sinking in the fight-ending choke, forcing Shalorus to tap out not just once, but twice, as referee Yuji Shimada missed the first instance.
The stoppage officially came at 2:15 of the first round.
"To be honest, I was really scared to get into the fight, so I practiced really, really hard for two months," Aoki said through a translator, adding that he intends to remain at lightweight rather than rotate back and forth between 155 pounds and 145 pounds.
In the night's co-main event, former Bellator champion Ben Askren (14-0) absolutely massacred Nobutatsu Suzuki (11-2-2), throwing the Japanese champion down from the opening bell and unleashing a massive salvo of punches. It was as one-sided of a performance as they come, and ultimately Askren finished his handiwork with another flurry of punches just 84 seconds into the first round to seize the ONE FC welterweight title.
"I mean, he probably should've chosen the easy way. It would've been a lot easier for all of us involved," Askren remarked afterward.
"Like I told Suzuki, if these other welterweights want it, they can come get it the hard way. It's not going to be a good night for ‘em. It's going to be a long night, it's going to be a tough night, probably going to go home with some marks on their face, but come on in."
Topping off the night's trio of championship fights, 38-year-old Mongolian fighter Jadamba Narantungalag (10-3) battered Koji Oishi (25-10-10) for five full rounds to claim a unanimous decision and win the ONE FC featherweight strap.
After a slow start, Narantungalag landed a devastating right hand early in round two then swarmed the former champ with punches and knees to the head, nearly forcing referee Yuji Shimada to intervene. Oishi gutted it out, although his efforts would be for naught, as Narantungalag repeatedly smashed punches and kicks into the Japanese veteran's swollen left eye, then almost finished the fight a second time late in the final frame, pummeling Oishi with a steady stream of punches from a failed neck crank.
All three judges scored the contest in favor of Narantungalag.
Elsewhere on the main card, former UFC standout Roger Huerta (22-7-1, 1 NC) picked up his first victory in four years, and it was a brutal one. The 31-year-old American reversed an early takedown from Christian Holley (10-1) then began blasting the previously undefeated Englishman with a volley of knees to the head from side control. Holley eventually turtled up, allowing Huerta to deftly take his back and finish the job with a relentless salvo of strikes. The official time of the finish came at 3:13 of the first round.
"I almost hung it up, I almost retired," an emotional Huerta said afterward.
"I want to thank my guys at Team Tiger (Muay Thai), Team Banter, these guys, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here today, I wouldn't be here competing again. They revived me, they wanted me to compete again, so I am here and I owe it to them."
In a featured light heavyweight contest, TUF veteran James McSweeney (14-11) made short work of Christiano Kaminishi (8-2, 2 NC), dropping the Brazilian with a blistering right hand early in the first round before sealing the deal with a soccer kick to the head. McSweeney almost unloaded a follow-up shot, but referee Olivier Coste mercifully jumped in to call a stop to the contest at 1:17 of the opening frame.
"The damage was done, he was unconscious," McSweeney said of the finish.
"I believe I can be the champion (of ONE FC) at light heavyweight and heavyweight."
Opening up the night's pay-per-view card, 26-year-old Brazilian featherweight prospect Herbert Burns maintained his undefeated record (4-0), defeating Hiroshige Tanaka (10-2) via unanimous decision. Burns nearly sent his Japanese foe home early, catching a kick then bumrushing Tanaka to the mat before locking up a tight rear-naked choke in the closing moments of round one.
Tanaka survived however, and despite being momentarily dropped by a right hand in the second frame, Tanaka came alive with a huge flurry against the fence midway through the final round. Sensing the momentum shifting, Burns parried off as many blows as he could then dived underneath for a double leg takedown, riding out the remainder of the fight unloading short knees to Tanaka's head to grab the judges' decision.
Check out complete ONE FC 19 results here.