ONE FC 5: PRIDE OF A NATION and PXC 33 Back-to-Back were the Best Two Days of My MMA Life!
When In Manila and an MMA fight fan, you probably have your own unforgettable memories of the unbelievably maton weekend last August 31 and September 1 as ONE FC and PXC went back-to-back to showcase 20 straight-brawlin’, ass-whoopin’, soccer-kickin’ fights that would’ve made the shameful UFC 151 card look more like utter crap had it pushed through.
Personally, the past week was an unbelievable ride! I got to witness Rolles, Gregor, and Igor Gracie work out – not once, but twice! – and during the more private, second workout at Project Lifestyle Manila catch BJJ virtuoso and Strikeforce fighter Roger Gracie train them.
The Gracies warming up before they trained at Project Lifestyle Manila.
At the ONE FC media workouts, I had the privilege of guest commentating for RJ Ledesma‘s “Best Men” bit on MMA, decoding the history, equipment, and techniques shown as Gustavo Falciroli, Bibiano Fernandes, Jens Pulver, Eric Kelly, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski worked with their respective training partners and answered questions from the press. I also had all three UFC legends sign gloves to add to my collection; indirectly I got some (unwanted) exposure as Arlovski‘s video blog recorded me asking for his signature. (I looked so skinny in the video. Probably because I was standing right next to Andrei FREAKIN’ SCARY Arlovski!)
One of my favorite shots from the ONE FC 5 workout. Eric Kelly is such a BEAST!
FHM Philippines also asked me to cover the two events for them, which was exciting because MMA is one of the things (aside from babes, babes, and babes) that their team has been doing a great job writing about. I had a lot of ideas as I wrote about the “10 Angas Moments” of the MMA weekend, so much that some of them had to be dropped from the article. So here are six more bad ass moments from ONE FC 5: PRIDE OF A NATION that would be criminal of me not to mention, one way or another.
One of FHM’s angas moments. Obviously naman why it’s angas ‘di ba?
ONE FC 5: PRIDE OF A NATION Introduction of Fighters
ONE Fighting Championship is often dubbed the natural successor to that legendary promotion we know as PRIDE. Y’know, world-class fighters, soccer kicks (sort of), Lenne Hardt, and all the other fun things we don’t get to see in the UFC.
The fighter introductions from where I was seated. Kevin Belingon may have dropped his fight against Soo Chul Kim, but he still wore our country’s colors proudly.
ONE FC also picked a page off PRIDE when they introduced the evening’s gladiators, each fighter basking in 20 seconds of glory as they walked out to a sold-out arena of cheering fans. Seeing all the competitors circled around the ONE FC cage invoked a spine-tingling sensation, and as the fireworks exploded every fight fan must’ve whispered to himself, “This night is going to be AWESOME!”
“OneShin” Wiratchai Delivers a Flash KO
Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai came to this fight against Mitch Chilson as a huge underdog. True enough, Chilson’s superior wrestling put “OneShin” on his back for the majority of the opening round. The Thai fighter impressively rebounded in the second frame, getting the better of Chilson as they traded blows. Then as “The Dragon” rushed in, Wiratchai threw a right counter that dropped Mitch to his knees. Chilson was still picking pieces of himself from the ground as “OneShin” followed up with a foot to the face before the referee (prematurely) stopped the fight.
After the controversial “no contest” of Arlovski vs. Sylvia 4, this fight was reviewed and ONE FC overturned the decision into a “no contest” as well. Maybe for consistency’s sake. ONE FC also stated that a rematch will be set. After what happened in their first fight, who wouldn’t want to see “OneShin” vs. Chilson 2?
Gregor Gracie’s BJJ Clinic on Nicholas Mann
Gregor Gracie and Nicholas Mann exchanging just before the takedown and the quick finish on the ground.
After his decision loss to Adam Kayoom in ONE FC 4, Gregor Gracie made sure that his fight with Nick Mann didn’t go the distance. It didn’t even reach the second round. After a few “feeling-out” exchanges, Gregor took Nick down and quickly moved to full mount. From that position, it was purely academic. Gregor latched on an armbar. Nick tried to resist, but he tapped eventually.
The ecstatic Gregor climbed up the cage and STOOD on the beam. He wobbled a bit but balanced himself before he raised his arms as the crowd celebrated with him. Amazing technical performance by Gregor Gracie!
Jung Hwan Cha Got Ground Game
Jung Hwan Cha will forever be remembered for his “Gangnam Style” walkout, thanks to one of his cornermen and the ONE FC ring girls. Want to make a good first impression (aside from a freakin’ awesome entrance)? How about beating up a Gracie in your first international bout!
Jung Hwan Cha defended an armbar attempt from Igor Gracie after the BJJ specialist continuously changed levels to take the Korean down. In the second frame, “Stone Cutter” became the aggressor as he trapped Igor in a helpless crucifix position. Twice. In the final round, Igor ate right straights from Gangnam – sorry – Hwan Cha before the Korean landed a flying knee, took Igor’s back, and started landing elbows for a referee stoppage at the 1:03 mark. Granted that Igor doesn’t have an immaculate record, but to say the least, “Stone Cutter” was able to beat a Gracie in his own game. And that speaks a lot. A hell lot.
An ecstatic Jung Hwan Cha celebrates as his hands were raised. He very well should.
Controversial ONE FC Refereeing
No great drama exists without controversy. In ONE FC 5, controversy came in the person of two referees. One was charged with stopping a fight too soon, the other has been notorious for letting fighters suffer unnecessary damage.
In Chilson vs. Wiratchai, “OneShin” used a perfect counter to drop Chilson and followed it up with a soccer kick. The referee stepped in – just before Chilson was rushing in to grab Wiratchai. Evolve MMA head coach Yodchatri Sityodtong was clearly enraged by what he and the fans thought was an early stoppage. Could Chilson have bounced back or not? No one can say for sure. Then the decision was overturned. Not because of the early stoppage, but because of the illegal soccer kick. So let’s keep our fingers crossed for “OneShin” vs. Chilson 2.
Referee Yuji Shimada was making all the right calls – until he charged Andrei Arlovski with an illegal strike against a downed Tim Sylvia. A right-left-right combination from Arlovski knocked Sylvia down on all fours, his head bowed down, his body turned away from his opponent. Arlovski hesitated for a good second or so before he soccer kicked “The Maine-iac” twice to oblivion. Shimada came in waving, and everyone in the Coliseum was going wild with the action! Then Shimada clarified that he was asking for a time stop and charged Arlovski with a yellow penalty card for illegal strikes (soccer kicks to the head). Apparently, ONE FC rules dictate that fighters can only execute kicks to the head of a downed opponent AFTER express consent from the referee. Note that Arlovski hesitated for a GOOD SECOND before he cracked Big Timmy open with kicks.
Was Shimada high or something? He should have (1) stepped in to rule it as a KO, the way Tim was reeled away from the action after Arlovski’s right, or (2) given the consent for Arlovski to commit as Sylvia was just begging for it. After Sylvia declared that he was seeing double, the judges decided to rule the bout a “no contest”.
Arlovski and Sylvia knew what was coming up next. You could tell Arlovski, in particular, wasn’t happy.
Later on we learned that Sylvia broke his hand some time in the first round thanks to an Arlovski kick. You can check out what I think of this one in my MMA Phil article.
While ONE FC has tried their best to make amends by ruling both Chilson vs. Wiratchai and Arlovski vs. Sylvia 4 as “no contests”, and ironically allowing soccer kicks at all times effective immediately, the erratic refereeing is something ONE FC should actively work on before “Rise of Kings” to regain the full trust of fighters and fans alike. (With the “open guard” rule scrapped, expect less inconsistencies from the referees. Hopefully.) Especially so when championships are on the line.
The Bibiano Fernandes Show
Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes worked on his boxing to complement his explosive takedowns and expert-level ground game.
Bibiano Fernandes is THE MAN when it comes to implementing his world-class Jiu-Jitsu to dominate his opponents. Fernandes’ performance in ONE FC 5 was virtuoso, and knowledgeable fight fans understand that they witnessed something special that night. The explosive transitions of “The Flash” from side-to-other side, or the uncanny scramble to get Gustavo Falciroli’s back whenever the Aussie tried to take him down, are but some of the many displays of Bibiano’s brilliance. To be fair, the manner Falciroli kept Bibiano in a deep half guard throughout the fight was impressive in and of itself, preventing the DREAM champion from finishing the fight. Regardless, Bibiano Fernandes clearly won the fight after dominating Falciroli for three straight rounds.
When In Manila, it’s hard to imagine another weekend to beat what we just experienced the double-header in ONE FC 5 and PXC 33. PXC has already announced their next Manila event this November. ONE FC will hold three inaugural championship matches this October 6 in Singapore. With more and more promotions turning their heads towards the Philippines, Manila is shaping up to become an MMA hot spot for promotions and fighters to visit. Keep your fingers crossed. Keep on training.
ONE FC 5: PRIDE OF A NATION Most Bad Ass Moments, Part 2