High Fives: Violent ‘Roots’

By Guy Portman Apr 15, 2019
The highest-profile bouts outside of UFC 236 took place in Asia during the weekend of April 12-14. One Championship “Roots of Honor” on Friday featured a strong card in Pasay City, Philippines, including two thrilling title fights and other entertaining clashes.

FOR THE HIGHLIGHT REEL … “Roots of Honor” was headlined by a lightweight title fight between defending champion Martin Nguyen, of Australia, and Mongolian challenger Narantungalag Jadambaa. On the feet, Nguyen utilized straight punches interspersed with low kicks to frustrate his adversary. Meanwhile, Jadambaa pressed forward and looked to land heavy hooks. The end came in the second round, where Nguyen hurt Jadambaa’s left foot with a low kick. When the Mongolian retreated while hopping on one leg, the champion uncorked a jumping knee to the face that sent Jadambaa crashing to his back at the 1:07 mark of Round Two. In defending his title, “The Sitsu-Asian” moved to 12-3; in defeat, the 43-year-old Jadambaa slipped to 14-6.

THE PASSION PREVAILS … The One Championship “Roots of Honor” co-main event was a strawweight title clash that pitted reigning champion Yosuke Saruta, of Japan, against Filipino mainstay Joshua Pacio. This was a rematch, the two men having met previously at One Championship “Eternal Glory” in January. On that occasion, Saruta took Pacio’s title by split decision. This time around, Pacio looked impressive on the feet, while Saruta enjoyed sustained periods of control on the mat. In the fourth round, Pacio landed a right roundhouse kick to the side of his rival’s head that sent him crumpling face first to the floor, resulting in the stoppage at 2:43 of the period. With the emphatic win, Pacio not only reclaimed his title but upped his record to 14-3. Meanwhile, Saruta dipped to 19-9-3.

SLICK ARMBAR … Brazil’s Leandro Issa met China’s Changxin Fu in a 68-kilogram catchweight affair on the One Championship bill. The Chinese combatant initially found success defending Issa’s takedown attempts. However, when they hit the mat, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt wasted little time setting up a triangle from the bottom. Fu stood and tried to pull himself free, but Issa transitioned to an armbar and elicited the tap 3:03 into the first round. The triumph saw “Brodinho” improve to 17-7, while Fu fell to 8-2.

HOMETOWN HEROICS … Filipino stalwart Edward Kelly squared off against South Korea’s Sung Jong Lee further down the card. Much of their fast-paced battle took place on the floor, where Lee hunted for submissions and Kelly responded with ground-and-pound. Buoyed by a vociferous home crowd, Kelly seized the victory 2:51 into Round 2 with a barrage of punches from top position in side control. Kelly rose to 12-6 with the win, while Lee dropped to 2-5.

QUICK-STRIKE KNOCKOUT … The One Championship undercard also paired the Philippines’ Eric Kelly opposite a late replacement in South Korea’s Won Il Kwon. Kwon was unfazed with stepping in on short notice. After connecting with a right cross, the Korean featherweight followed with an onslaught of punches to his downed counterpart, which rendered Kelly unable to continue a mere 19 seconds after the bell starting the match had sounded. The knockout saw the victorious “Pretty Boy” move to 4-1. Kelly has now lost six straight fights and sits at 12-7.


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