Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where Jed Meshew and Alexander K. Lee shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
First up, let’s head to Singapore to check on the ONE Championship promotion, which held one of its biggest shows of the year on Friday.
Amir Khan vs. Sung Jong Lee
AL: ONE Championship: Unstoppable Dreams was loaded with big names, including strawweight queen Angela Lee, two-division titleholder Martin Nguyen, Japanese legend Shinya Aoki, and ONE original Eduard Folayang.
But we want to focus on a fight that easily could have been missed, a main card opener featuring Singapore’s own Amir Khan and Sung Jong Lee that set the bar high for the rest of the evening.
JM: No disrespect to the main event which was excellent in its own right but this was the fight of the weekend. Khan and Lee went hammer and tongs for the better part of nine minutes.
Lee was super crafty on the floor but couldn’t get enough going down there so he was forced into exchanges with Khan, who just lit him up. But to Lee’s credit, he kept coming forward, wading through the barrages and firing back until he was completely spent.
Plus it was extremely convenient to watch since ONE’s new app is great. People might be under the impression MMA Fighting is getting paid since many of us are pimping the app but we are not. We’re all just genuinely impressed by how good this thing is.
AL: Yes, other than the fact that events can’t be replayed (yet), the app is as smooth as can be. Had zero issues streaming the event and all it takes is one touch of the screen to get to a live broadcast. Impressive stuff.
Back to the fight, this was a striker vs. grappler matchup in the best possible way. Fans sometimes dread this clash of styles as it can often lead to the striker being smothered or the grappler being rendered completely ineffective on the feet, but in this one Lee was incredibly active going for submissions while Khan also got to show off his aggressive striking.
Khan wasn’t having any of Lee’s guard pull attempts and yet Lee somehow found a way to tie up Khan’s legs, even going for a calf slicer at one point. However, once Khan got free, it looked like Lee gassed out and Khan pounced on him with ground-and-pound until the referee waved it off.
Amir Khan TKOs Sung Jong Lee (ONE) pic.twitter.com/EoY47QPtxI— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) May 18, 2018
He doesn’t turn 24 until November, so look for Khan to continue to make waves in the Asian MMA scene.
Serdar Altas vs. Luan Jashari Frantzen
JM: Moving on, I’d like to report a murder. A Swedish flyweight by the name of Serdar Altas just killed a man on Saturday.
This was the pro debut for both fighters and it’s safe to say that it went a lot better for one than the other. A glance at Altas’s amateur record shows that he paid his dues to get to Superior Challenge 17 in Stockholm, Sweden, fighting in several different countries including the U.S., England, South Africa, and Bahrain.
JM: That’s a pretty extensive travel record for an amateur fighter but Luan Frantzen has him beat as he just took up permanent residence in The Land of Wind and Ghosts. On the bright side for Frantzen, assuming he does fight again, there’s nowhere to go from here but up.
AL: Superior Challenge 17 is available for pay-per-view replay on FITE TV.
Before we head back to Asia, let’s check in on a “highlight” from a boxing match that took place in my beloved Toronto, the first title fight ever contested at the Air Canada Centre actually: WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack.
While this one eventually developed into an entertaining fight that would end in Stevenson retaining by majority draw, what we really want to talk about is this haymaker that nearly ended the fight:
JM: It’s fairly remarkable to me that the fight picked up late after what looked to be an extremely gassed out hook from Jack. Props to the referee who was in terrible position to eat that hook, but took the shot just fine. Dude has a better chin than most guys his age.
AL: I wanted to include this clip as a reminder that stupid stuff has been happening in all forms of combat sports since the dawn of time, not just in MMA.
Referee Ian John Lewis, we salute you.
Daichi Kitakata vs. Hiroaki Ijima
Kunio Nakamura vs. Kenta Takagi
Akihiro Murayama vs. Takaaki Nara
AL: Last but not least, we have a trio of notable bouts to report on from Pancrase 296 in Tokyo, Japan.
Sunday night’s best fight was a strawweight affair between Daichi Kitakata and Hiroaki Ijima. This one lasted less than two rounds, but packed a lot of action in there including a double knockdown and a comeback performance by Kitakata.
JM: As Team Alpha Male has known for a long time, a good guillotine is one of the great equalizers in MMA. Kitakata survived a rough first round only to come out in the second and stun Ijima before getting clipped himself. I like how Kitakata’s reaction to getting rattled is to attempt a jumping knee only to then sprawl into a guillotine. Wild stuff.
In a frenetic clash between the top two strawweight contenders, Daichi Kitakata becomes the first man to submit Hiroaki Ijima! He survived a knockdown and dozens of follow-up punches, only to return the favor in the second and nab a guillotine. Rematch with Sunabe? #Pancrase296 pic.twitter.com/6MjILyRm55— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) May 20, 2018
AL: Having never been in that situation myself, I’m trusting that Kitakata utilized the most prudent and logical maneuver in the moment.
One fighter who didn’t have to face much adversity was up-and-coming welterweight Kunio Nakamura. This guy looks like a million bucks and fought like it too, disintegrating opponent Kenta Takagi in seven seconds flat.
Kunio Nakamura blitzes Kenta Takagi out of the gate, finishing the former HEAT champion in just seven seconds! The 29-year-old moves to 4-1, with all of his wins coming via knockout. #Pancrase296 pic.twitter.com/o2vfWYLgXp— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) May 20, 2018
JM: Anytime you can fit the entire fight into a single GIF, you know somebody got thumped up something proper. Who would have guessed a rising prospect like Nakamura would have destroyed a guy with a .500 record in MMA?
AL: Nakamura is currently 4-1 with all of his wins coming by way of KO, three in 39 seconds or less.
Speaking of mismatches, a matchup between former Pancrase welterweight champion Akihiro Muryama and Takaaki Nara went exactly as you’d expect given that Murayama has 31 more fights (!) than Nara. Youth would not prevail here as Nara got rocked and then sent to hang out with Luan Frantzen courtesy of a rear-naked choke.
JM: To be fair, Muryama is nearing 40, doesn’t have a great record, and had lost his last two in a row. This wasn’t that big of a mismatch on paper, it just happened to be one when the cage door closed.
AL: This is when prospect building goes horribly wrong.
Following a hard-fought decision loss to interim King of Pancrase Rafael Silva, Masakatsu Ueda announces his retirement. One of the best bantamweights ever outside the UFC, the former Shooto champion ends at 26-6-2. His wins include Horiguchi, Pulver and Rumina Sato. #Pancrase296 pic.twitter.com/SutI9F9FtB— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) May 20, 2018
In 33 professional fights, Ueda captured both the Shooto and ONE Championship bantamweight titles and he owns wins over a number of lighter weight luminaries including Kyoji Horiguchi, Jens Pulver, Royler Gracie, Rumina Sato, and Eduardo Dantas.
JM: Ueda was never the best fighter in the world but for the better part of 15 years he was a rock solid bantamweight and the fact that he kept picking up wins into his 40s is proof of his bonafides.
Fortunately this is MMA so if you’ve never seen him fight before, just wait a few years and he will certainly be back.
If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.