While teammate Joshua Pacio exhibited his dependence on improved grappling as a critical weapon in defending his strawweight title, Gina Iniong was the one who certified that Team Lakay isn’t going to be doubted anymore whenever the action goes to the mat.
The “Conviction” initiated the use grappling to dominate Asha “Knockout Queen” Roka in their women’s atomweight mixed martial arts battle during ONE: Fire & Fury on January 31, 2020 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Team Lakay fighters are traditionally known for their tendency to forced opponents to a standup, strike oriented match and Roka was supposed to be the perfect opponent as she was more known for her being a knockout artist.
Iniong instead initially dismayed the audiences’ expectation of a fistfight and turned it into an equally entertaining grappling bout that she initiated all the time.
Iniong did not make an attempt to surprise Roka and instead revealed her intent right at the start of the bout by going for her leg.
She successfully pinned her against the fence, forced her to the canvass, and quickly gained control of the ground action.
After several moments where Roka tries to keep Iniong in check, allowing only soft elbows and punches to the side, the Team Lakay lady representative found an opening to deliver ground and pound that ranges from punches from dominant position.
Iniong ended the round with a flourish by connecting kicks to Roka’s body on her feet and diving in for control on top as the bell sounded.
After a few seconds of sizing up each other, Iniong forced the action to the ground once again to set the grappling going in the second round.
It was all Iniong from there on in during the round.
She momentarily loses control as Roka reverses positions but quickly recovers it and held on the wrestling game. The round ended with Iniong attempting a choke hold as the bell sounded.
Roka surprised the crowd to start the final frame as she tried connecting a spinning backfist to which the MOA audience reacted to wildly.
Iniong, however, ducked to avoid damage from the Team Lakay patented move.
A number of wild punches from both fighters allowed Iniong to get another body lock and pin Roka to the fence once more.
Iniong maintained a tight double arm under lock while on the receiving end of Roka elbows for few anxious moments until she was able to execute a clean suplex that put Roka to the mat on her back once again.
After several minutes of unproductive jockeying for position, lack of damaging hits forced referee Kemp Cheng to break up the lady warriors and restart action on their feet at the 53 second mark to which the crowd cheered in approval.
Roka showed a glimpse of her striking arsenal as she attempted a flying punch and a high kick which both fell short of their targets.
She got tagged with two Iniong kicks instead in the process.
All and all, Iniong initiated and executed at least one takedown in each of the three rounds of the bout and never allowed any sort of significant striking action to occur.
She also ended of the myth that Team Lakay’s Achilles Heel is their propensity is mainly centered on the striking game and will easily be defeated when the action goes down there.
Cordilleran and Filipino fight fans were surely delighted to witness a fighter wearing the patented Team Lakay red colors instigate a grappling game and dominate the fight.
By: Armando M. Bolislis
Photo by ONE Championship