Team Lakay’s Gina “Conviction” Iniong could not find an answer to Mei Yamaguchi’s ground assault as she was dominated whenever the fight goes to the canvass and yield to a unanimous decision defeat to the Japanese in their rematch bout during ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT opening card.
“V.V” Yamaguchi pulled off a sensational victory in front of a passionate Singaporean crowd by routing Iniong, solidifying her position as the top contender in ONE Championship’s talented female atomweight bracket. After dealing with Iniong’s signature right hand and takedowns in the first round, Yamaguchi turned the tide in the second stanza by resorting to her superb grappling pedigree. On the canvas, Yamaguchi continuously pummeled Iniong with thudding strikes and tried to bring the bout to a close with savvy submissions attempts. Yamaguchi punctuated the marquee match-up by grinding out Iniong in the third frame, steering the former world title contender to a unanimous decision victory.
Iniong’s loss in this November 24 bout at Singapore will drop her career fight record to 6-3 while Yamaguchi improves to 17-10-1 and is on track to give ONE’s undisputed queen, Angela Lee, who was incidentally Yamaguchi’s opponent had she not been involved in a car accident, a much-awaited rematch.
Iniong entry in this card could be setting a record of sorts in ONE Championship history as she is coming off a rousing victory over Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol last November 10.
ONE Championship does not maintain records for the shortest layoff between bouts, but Iniong should be in line to own one of the shortest, if not the shortest one, as she set her feet back in the ring on the 14th day after her last fight.
Meanwhile, the other Filipino in the card, Richard Corminal, succumbed to an Arm Triangle and tapped out at 3:16 minutes of round 1 to Arnaud LePont.
An asian martial arts veteran, “The Game” LePont made a successful return to the ONE Championship cage. After a brief moment on the feet, LePont wasted no time in taking the action to the mat, where he slowly took mount and worked on the submission finish to force the tap.
In the main event, ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben “Funky” Askren of the United States left an indelible mark in what was billed as the last bout of his illustrious martial arts career, defeating Japanese legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki by way of first-round technical knockout. It only took Askren 57 seconds to retain the most prestigious award in ONE Championship’s welterweight division. Askren effortlessly secured the stoppage after Aoki pulled his American counterpart into his patented guard, giving the champion an opening to unleash heavy blows with ease. As Aoki started to cover up to defend himself, Askren relentlessly poured down a barrage of solid punches that left the referee with no other choice but to call a halt to the championship clash.
Ben Askren, ONE Welterweight World Champion, stated: “I think this is it. If I get the opportunity to prove I’m number one, then I’ll take the opportunity. I don’t need any more money. I just want to show the fans that I’m the best welterweight in the world. Other than that, I’m out.”
In the co-main event of the evening, Evolve lightweight standout Amir Khan of Singapore figured in his most impressive performance yet, overwhelming lightweight veteran Adrian “The Hunter” Pang with a showcase of impeccable striking and great takedown defense. The 22-year-old Khan consistently kept Pang out of range with his combinations from the outside, while circling away from Pang’s most powerful blows. In the end, all three judges scored in favor of Khan who wins by unanimous decision after three rounds.
A gruelling bantamweight showdown between Brazil’s Leandro “Brodinho” Issa and South Korea’s Dae Hwan “Ottogi” Kim transpired inside the ONE Championship cage, as neither of the two warriors would give each other any quarter for three whole rounds. Although Kim would have his moments on the feet, most of the action took place on the ground where Issa enjoyed an advantage. In the end, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Issa turned in another well-rounded performance to claim victory via unanimous decision.
After pulling off an impressive promotional debut last August, “Mighty” May Ooi of Singapore continued her winning ways inside the ONE Championship cage by toppling Cambodia’s Vy Srey Khouch in the first round via submission. Leaning on her impressive grappling prowess, Ooi made Srey Khouch wave the white flag with a deep rear-naked choke, cementing her place in the organization’s female strawweight division.
A heated featherweight matchup ended abruptly, when China’s Li Kai Wen was disqualified for illegal blows to the back of the head of opponent Ahmed “The Wolverine” Mujtaba of Pakistan. Mujtaba was given five minutes to recover from injury, but was unable to continue after the allotted time expired.
Rising martial arts star Tiffany “No Chill” Teo of Singapore kept her unblemished professional record intact by making quick work of Indian opponent Puja Tomar to win via submission in the very first round. With 53 seconds remaining in the period, Teo latched onto a wrenching armbar to compel Tomar to tap, claiming the victory.
In the second preliminary bout of the evening, Malaysian standout Muhammad Aiman reinserted his name into the winner’s column by outworking promotional newcomer Yang Fei of China in a tactical three-round catchweight contest. Aiman and Yang employed efficient strategies from bell to bell, with the Malaysian utilizing his speed and power to connect on a handful of thudding strikes on Yang, who responded with solid hooks and takedown attempts. After going back-and-forth for three rounds, Aiman was declared the victor by way of unanimous decision.
Kicking off ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT was a high-octane strawweight encounter as the debuting Miao Li Tao of China shared the ONE Championship cage with Cambodian striking specialist Sim Bunsrun. In his first outing as a ONE Championship competitor, Miao delivered an outstanding performance by stopping Bunsrun in the first round. The 25-year-old native of Beijing, China got the job done by catching Bunsrun with a perfectly-executed right cross and then going for the finish with follow-up blows on the mat.
Official results for ONE: IMMORTAL PURSUIT
ONE Welterweight World Championship bout: Ben Askren defeats Shinya Aoki by TKO (Strikes) at 0:57 minutes of round 1
Lightweight bout: Amir Khan defeats Adrian Pang by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Bantamweight bout: Leandro Issa defeats Dae Hwan Kim by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Women’s strawweight bout: May Ooi defeats Vy Srey Khouch by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:58 minutes of round 1
Featherweight bout: Ahmed Mujtaba defeats Li Kai Wen by Disqualification (Illegal Blows)
Women’s catchweight bout (58kg): Tiffany Teo defeats Puja Tomar by Submission (Armbar) at 4:07 minutes of round 1
Women’s atomweight bout: Mei Yamaguchi defeats Gina Iniong by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Lightweight bout: Arnaud LePont defeats Richard Corminal by Submission (Arm Triangle) at 3:16 minutes of round 1
Catchweight bout (69.4kg): Muhammad Aiman defeats Yang Fei by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Strawweight bout: Miao Li Tao defeats Sim Bunsrun by TKO (strikes) at 1:49 minutes of round 1
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS