Shinya Aoki won't win any ‘Fight of the Year' awards for his victory at ONE Championship 27, but he came away with the hardware that mattered most. Aoki outclassed then out-taunted Japanese challenger Koji Ando to defend his lightweight title with a lopsided unanimous decision Friday night at Singapore Indoor Stadium in ONE Championship 27's main event.
It was the usual master class from Aoki (37-6), as the 32-year-old employed a steady diet of takedowns and smothering top control to frustrate and largely negate Ando (11-4-2). Ando briefly found his rhythm during a puzzling second round that saw Aoki doing nothing but backpedal and eat jabs, but any momentum Ando may have gained was quickly shut down when Aoki returned to his bread and butter takedowns and nearly captured an armbar in the closing moments of the third.
Aoki spent much of the fourth frame working for a rear-naked choke from Ando's back, before dialing up the theatrics for a final stanza that saw everything from copious butt-scooting to exaggerated jumps into guard. In the end, all three judges scored the bout for Aoki, awarding the champion his fifth straight win inside the ONE Championship cage and eighth overall.
"It was a really tough fight," Aoki said afterward through a translator. "But everyone in Singapore, all the fans, cheered for me, so I was able to win. Thank you."
A nifty slice on history was made in the night's co-main event, as Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichok (5-0) defeated one-time WBO title challenger Roy Doliguez (6-2) to become the first male strawweight champion in a major global MMA organization. A decorated three-time Lumpinee titleholder with over 300 Muay Thai fights to his record, the 36-year-old Amnuaysirichok employed a furious pace to win the exciting but foul-laden contest, which ended in bizarre fashion midway through fifth round following an Amnuaysirichok elbow strike to eye which was seemingly ruled an eyepoke.
The fight featured several extended breaks, but when the action was rolling, it was a scrambler's dream. Amnuaysirichok reversed a slew of Doliguez takedown attempts early to start piling up punches and lunging knees to the body. The damage took its toll, and Amnuaysirichok nearly finished the fight with a frantic sequence in the third when the Thai native waded inside and dropped Doliguez with a salvo of right hands and knees, then poured on soccer kicks in an attempt to secure his fifth straight knockout.
Doliguez incredibly survived, though he was unable to regain any momentum and the contest was ultimately called off late in the fifth round after Doliguez complained of an eyepoke that appeared to be a legal strike. Referee Joey Lepiten ended the bout and Amnuaysirichok was awarded ONE Championship's inaugural 115-pound title via technical decision.
Elsewhere on the card, M-1 champion Marat Gafurov (11-0) may very well have cemented himself as the next ONE Championship featherweight title challenger. The streaking Dagestani blitzed through Ev Ting (9-3) in his second promotional appearance, suffocating the Malaysian with constant pressure before sending his foe home with another first-round rear-naked choke.
Gafurov slammed Ting to the mat early, then went to work unloading punches, elbows, and knees to the head from a stiflingly active half guard. Ting briefly worked to his feet after giving up his back, but seconds later found himself slammed back onto the canvas. From there Gafurov snaked his legs into a body triangle around Ting's back and sealed his win at 4:30 of the opening frame.
"I always push the pace and put my opponent on the ground and try to beat him on the ground," Gafurov said through a translator. "I'm ready for any fight."
American lightweight Lowen Tyanes (7-0) preserved his perfect record by capturing a unanimous decision over Kuat Khamitov (18-4-1), though the bout wasn't exactly one to remember. Referee Joey Lepiten was forced to call for action numerous times as Tyanes and Khamitov engaged in long stalemate stretches. The best moment of the fight came late in the third, when Tyanes took Khamitov's back, trapped his right hand, then rained down punches until the Kazak squirmed to his feet. That sequence, along with a handful of Tyanes takedowns, ultimately swayed the decision in the Hawaiian's favor.
In bonus lightweight action, Hong Kong prospect Eddie Ng (7-3) suffered yet another setback in his ONE Championship career, succumbing to a rear-naked choke at the hands of Costa Rican veteran Ariel Sexton (10-3, 1 NC) to drop his second straight contest after starting his ONE Championship career with four straight victories. Sexton found success on his feet early and often, connecting with his right hand and stymying Ng's offense with his awkward style.
Ng may very well have been saved by the bell at the end of the opening frame, as Sexton secured a takedown off a right uppercut then transitioned seamlessly into a nasty triangle. But whatever reprieve Ng may have gained from his survival was ultimately short-lived. Sexton charged into a takedown off an overhand right to kick off the second stanza, then snatched Ng's back and secured the fight-ending choke at 1:10 to nab the upset.
"The body lock is something I do a lot of, and I have a pretty strong right hand, so I tried to counter him," Sexton said. "I'm always chasing people around, so I tried to be more patient and wait. He caught me with a couple good hits."
Thai featherweight Shannon Wiratchai (4-1, 1 NC) snapped the violent three-fight win streak of Singapore's Amir Khan (3-2), eking out a split decision behind a steady stream of looping hooks and elbows from the clinch. The bout was closely contested throughout. Wiratchai came on strong in the second and third frame, landing repeated salvos of standing elbows to the head. Khan fired back and even snuck in a takedown in the closing moments of the final round, but ultimately two of the three judges scored the contest for Wiratchai.
Rounding out the night's pay-per-view, 18-year-old women's strawweight prospect Angela Lee (1-0) shined in her professional debut, pasting Egyptian kickboxer Aya Saeid Saber (3-6) in less than two minutes. If there were any early jitters, Lee didn't show them. The young Hawaii resident came out on fire, hip tossing Saber to the mat, flattening her out, then raining punches down from side control. The onslaught reached a close with a slick finishing sequence that saw Lee snatch an armbar and seemingly injure Saber's arm before coaxing the tap at 1:43 of the opening frame.
"This is amazing. It was everything I expected it to be and more," an emotional Lee said. "I heard that ONE doesn't have a current women's MMA champion, and it would be nice to have one, especially coming from Singapore. So that's the goal."