Svirid wins in a flash as Ataides slips
It was a much-anticipated bout, and the faces of the two fighters headlined all the promotional posters leading up to the fight.
But, the One Fighting Championship (One FC) middleweight world championship bout last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium between Leandro Ataides and Igor Svirid ended in a flash.
All of 17 seconds, to be exact.
Ataides, a Brazilian who has called Singapore his home for the past six months, slipped while backing away from a punch, soon after the first of five rounds started in the final bout in the Battle of Lions event.
Sensing blood, Svirid, a Kazakh national, went in for the kill and rained punches on the home favourite, even as he briefly regained his balance.
Ataides went down on his knees, and then flat on his stomach, as Svirid threw three more punches before the referee stopped the bout, and the 1.83m-tall fighter wheeled away to celebrate his quick victory.
Ataides still looked stunned as he settled down in a chair in the ring when the referee declared Svirid the victor, the quickest among the 10 bouts last night.
Still looking visibly upset some 15 minutes after his fight, Ataides said: "This is the most disappointing fight in my life. This happens in a fight... when I slipped I wasn't sure if I could recover or not. It happened too quickly."
Separately, Svirid said: "When he slipped, I knew the belt was mine. I was very confident when that happened."
Nicknamed the "Lionheart", Svirid did not have a game plan going into the fight, except to avoid getting into a grapple with his physically bigger opponent.
"I don't think luck has anything to do with my win," he said, when asked about Ataides' slip.
"I train very hard, and I am just very happy that the belt is mine now.
"I will go back to Kazakhstan and celebrate with my people."
The 10,000-strong crowd chanted for a rematch, as Svirid was presented the belt, and the new world champion is not afraid to face his vanquished opponent again.
"The crowd didn't affect me at all. I just came here to win the belt, and I did it.
"I am always ready for a rematch. Any time," said Svirid.
Ataides, meanwhile, vows to bounce back, soon and stronger.
"I am so sorry for my fans, my friends and my students tonight," said the Brazilian, who is also an instructor at the Evolve MMA gym in Singapore.
"I will never stop training, I will now train 10 times as hard and I will be back.
"I will take his belt. This belt has to stay in Singapore."
Middleweight World Championship:
- Igor Svirid (Kazakhstan) bt Leandro Ataides (Brazil)
- Koji Ando (Japan) bt Zorobabel Moreira (Brazil)
- Luis Santos (Brazil) bt Bakhtiyar Abbasov (Azerbaijan)
- Christophe Vandijck (Belgium) bt Dwayne Hinds (T&T)
- Jeff Huang (Taiwan) bt Zuli Silawanto (Indonesia)
- Tatsuya Mizuno (Japan) bt Brayan Rafiq (France)
- Major Overall (United States) bt Cary Bullos (Philippines)
- Martin Nguyen (Australia) bt Rocky Batolbatol (Philippines)
- Amir Khan (Singapore) bt Waqar Umar (Pakistan)
- Kirstie Gannaway (Singapore) bt Adek Omar (Malaysia)
Gannaway gets her way
Kirstie Gannaway is known for her lightning punches, having started out as a boxer.
Instead, she won her One Fighting Championship (One FC) debut with a triangle choke hold at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night.
Facing Malaysian Adek Omar in the atomweight category - the first of 10 bouts of the Battle of Lions event - the 23-year-old Singaporean tried various submission holds after 30 seconds into the first of three rounds, but succeeded only about two minutes later.
She said: "Submission was part of my game plan. I wanted to take her down earlier... but she made it difficult.
"I am known for my striking, so I think I've proven my abilities on the ground."
She was feeling "a little nervous" before her fight, but pushed everything out before striding into the arena, as spectators were still streaming into the venue on a rainy evening.
Gannaway said: "this is the first time i've fought in five or six years. The previous one was an amateur muaythai fight in a gym where about 30 people were watching.
"It was my (mixed martial arts) debut and I did feel a bit of pressure, but I got that out fast because I didn't want to focus on failure.
"This is a massive stadium, but I completed zoned out. I practised that a lot during training at Evolve (MMA gym) where there are a lot of things going on at the same time.
"Sometimes, there's also quite a number of people watching (me train), since I've been doing quite a bit of media recently."
Her compatriot Amir Khan, also from Evolve, also won his featherweight bout against Pakistan's Waqar Umar in the first round.
"He thought I hit him in the b***s, but the referee said 'fight', so I kneed him," said Amir, 19.
He followed that up with two elbows to the back of his opponent's head for a knock-out win.
Amir added: "My game plan was to start slow and to feel him out, because in his previous fight, he liked to throw punches.
"I was hoping to knock him out in the first or second round... I saw the opportunity there when he let his guard down."
Amir and Gannaway will let their hair down for a few days on a getaway with their mates from Evolve, where both of them also serve as assistant instructors.
Said Gannaway, who gave up her favourite cakes and cookies to prepare for the fight: "My brother is here tonight, along with some cousins from Australia. I'd probably spend some time with them tonight before the trip with Evolve tomorrow.
"And, cakes and cookies!"