Sports

Top highlights from ONE: Reign Of Valor

On Friday (March 8), some of the world’s best martial artists delivered another scintillating card at ONE: Reign Of Valor inside the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

Nine of the fourteen bouts ended in a stoppage, with the last five bouts of the night ending by way of knockout or TKO.

Here are some of the highlights of the event, which could also be a preview of future challenges for some of the Singapore-based talent in the promotion.

Zebaztian Kadestam’s Uncontainable Strikes

The ONE Welterweight World Champion competed in his first World Title defense against promotional newcomer Georgy Kichigin of Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh came into the contest with a four-year 14-bout undefeated run, with only four matches going beyond the first round.

Zebaztian Kadestam ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Zebaztian KadestamPHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

“The Bandit” had his work cut out for him, as Kichigin relied on his grappling prowess to dominate the Swede on the ground in the opening round.

In the second, the challenger looked to do more of the same, but couldn’t contain the fury of Kadestam’s strikes towards the end of the second round.

The damage Kichigin sustained proved to be enough to keep him from getting back up for the third round, as the referee waved off the match for a successful World Title defense.

Phoe Thaw Continues to Rise

All three of Myanmar’s competitors came away with a victory in the event, culminating with a huge TKO victory by “Bushido” in the co-main event.

Indonesian martial arts pioneer Yohan Mulia Legowo looked to neutralize the local hero’s kicks with takedown attempts, but Phoe Thaw was able to battle his way back to control.

The 34-year-old dropped bombs on Legowo, and even an armbar attempt from “The Iceman” could not stop the onslaught, forcing the referee to stop the contest to the delight of the home crowd.

Phoe Thaw, ONE CHAMPIONSHIP
Phoe ThawPHOTO: ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

The win improves Phoe Thaw’s record to 7-1, with six knockouts – closing in on Evolve MMA’s Christian Lee’s division-leading seven.

It may take a while before Phoe Thaw could cross paths with Lee, but with their penchant for finishing their opponents, it will be an exciting match to look forward to.

Rene Catalan Shocks the World

The 40-year-old Catalan Fighting Systems head coach was riding on a five-bout win streak and met a tough challenge in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Yoshitaka Naito.

The Japanese grappling stalwart sought to take the match to the ground, but “The Challenger” was clearly ready for his opponent’s tactics, keeping his hands through all of Naito’s takedown attempts.

Ultimately, Naito would not be able to defend against Catalan’s relentless strikes, and he would fall to his first career stoppage loss after the referee stopped the contest at the 4:32 mark of the first round.

Another 40-year-old strawweight is also on an impressive run, with back-to-back stoppages highlighted by a TKO at ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS just a month before, with Evolve MMA’s Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke defeating Filipino contender Jeremy Miado.

Both competitors are looking for a shot at the World Title, and will have their eyes glued on the winner of the rematch between Joshua Pacio and Yosuke Saruta at ONE: Roots of Honor on April 12.

A New Challenger Arises

While Evolve MMA’s Angela Lee prepares for her ONE Women’s Strawweight World Title challenge against Xiong Jing Nan, the women’s atomweight division welcomed a new challenger.

Promotional newcomer Lin Heqin of China made a statement in her debut against Filipina stalwart Jomary Torres to claim her place in the division.

The Catalan Fighting Systems product did her homework, as she looked to keep Heqin from establishing her striking game by closing the distance.

However, the Chinese newcomer proved that she was just as capable on the ground, battling the Filipina until she locked a triangle choke so deep that Torres was forced to tap with barely a minute left in the opening round.

The win was the first submission victory for Heqin, and her sixth overall, while dealing Torres her first stoppage in the cage. 

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)