Vitaly Bigdash pulled off the comeback of a lifetime Friday in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. The undefeated Russian rallied from several near knockouts to defeat Igor Svirid and capture the ONE middleweight title in the dramatic main event of ONE 32: Tigers of Asia.
The fight couldn't have started worse for Bigdash (8-0), who ate huge punches from the opening horn and hit the floor multiple times, including one knockdown from a clubbing Svirid right hand that nearly put the 31-year-old away. Bigdash survived though, and turned the tide late in the first round when he floored an overanxious Svirid (10-2) with a nasty knee to the jaw.
Bigdash lunged onto a rear-naked choke attempt and nearly ended the fight before Svirid could be saved by the bell. But it was a small mercy. Just 36 seconds into round two, Bigdash dropped Svirid with a scorching straight right, then pounced to secure the TKO.
"I know he is a very good fighter, a strong fighter, but I just wanted to go with the flow," Bigdash said. With the victory, Bigdash is crowned the new ONE middleweight champion.
In the night's co-main event, Malaysian darling Ann Osman (3-2) suffered a surprising knockout loss at the hands of MMA newcomer Irina Mazepa (1-0).
Osman's pressuring gameplan worked in the opening stages of the fight, as she scored a takedown and advanced into mount while throwing heavy punches.
Mazepa escaped though, and after illegally grabbing the fence to prevent another takedown, she blasted Osman with a left hook to the jaw. Osman collapsed in a heap, eating a few more follow-up shots before the contest could be waved off at 3:05 of the opening round.
The Malaysian crowd took another hit further down the card, as Adrian Pang (22-8-2) knocked out fan favorite lightweight Peter Davis (10-4) in just 48 seconds.
Davis, a part-time model and actor in Malaysia, entered the contest with title hopes, having won four straight fights. But that momentum quickly ground to a halt, as Pang clipped Davis with a flurry, then downed him with a left hook over the top. Pang swarmed, finishing off the big upset with a barrage of unanswered strikes.
Elsewhere on the night, featherweight prospect Ev Ting (10-3) made quick work of former ONE champion Honorio Banario (8-6). Ting reversed a lazy takedown attempt then swept Banario into mount, coaxing a frantic stoppage at :56 of the first round via mounted guillotine.
Rounding out the card, Filipino featherweight Eric Kelly (12-1) inched himself closer to title contention, pulling out a controversial decision over Hiroshige Tanaka (10-3). Tanaka ran a takedown clinic on Kelly and generally dictated the terms of fight, but suffered heavy damage from a slew of Kelly back elbows that sliced the Japanese fighter open from back control. Kelly also grabbed the fence multiple times to avoid takedowns.
It didn't matter though. All three judges' scored Kelly's damage over Tanaka's control, awarding the 33-year-old his third consecutive victory in the ONE Championship cage.
The fight was Kelly's first following an 15-month layoff due to a contract dispute.
In early action, flyweight veteran Riku Shibuya (12-3-2) captured a unanimous decision over Eugene Toquero (7-2), one-time title challenger Dae Hwan Kim (11-1-1) climbed back into the win column by submitting Chinese bantamweight Teng Li Ge (3-3) with a rear-naked choke at 4:08 of the second round, 22-year-old Gianni Subba (6-1) outpointed Almiro Barros (1-1) in a unanimous decision, and younger brother 21-year-old Keanu Subba (2-1) defeated Florian Garel (2-5) via TKO (strikes) at 4:51 of the opening round.