A thriller from top to bottom, ONE Fighting Championship 9 “Rise to Power” took place in Manila, Philippines on May 31, 2013. The incredibly well-designed matches delivered by a mix of champions and up-and-comers kept a packed MOA Arena on its feet.
Masakatsu Ueda waged a war with Kevin Belingon to become the Bantamweight Grand Prix winner. Bibiano Fernandes was forced to work hard to get the win over Koetsu Okazaki for the interim Bantamweight Championship. Honorio Banario defended his title against Koji Oishi and the resulting slugfest saw the Featherweight belt transfer owners to the much-decorated Japanese.
ONE FC 9 was about as ambitious an event that the promotion has so far put on. The MOA Arena holds a seated 15,000 people of which 80 percent was occupied by the start of the Main Card. The promoter blocked off much less than in previous events, sheeting only the south entrance seats for the entrance ramp and giant LED screen. The arena’s LED ribbons across each level of seating were emblazoned throughout the night with graphics corresponding to each entrance. This and the incredibly clear sound production created a superb full-surround experience. As such, many of the fighters actually paused during their entrances to observe the arena, and what they saw likely added to their exciting performances in the cage.
Gone were the VIP room, the fireworks, the specially outfitted cageside full-service seats, this was all-out, no-frills, action-packed war. In front of the hardcore and extremely educated Filipino fans, the home town heroes of Team Lakay were put on the front burner with a Grand Prix finals match, a title defense, and no fewer than five of their warriors contesting against top international opponents. Wizard matchmaker explains the entire card in this post-event video interview here. Honorio Banario, Eduard Folayang, and Rey Docyogen each faced UFC veterans, and Kevin Belingon faced a Bellator vet. Team Lakay accepted a huge challenge to step up a level, and while they may not have come out in the wins column that night, they proved they are more than capable enough to take on any opponents and deliver top notch fights – four of their five bouts went the distance.
The Japanese contingency came out with spades: Koji Oishi took home the Featherweight strap, Masakatsu Ueda was the Bantamweight Grand Prix winner, Yasuhiro Urushitani took a split decision, and Nobutatsu Suzuki put away Phil Baroni.
The night kicked off sharply on time at 6:30pm with a catchweight bout between the heavies Tim Sylvia and Tony Johnson. Going all the way to the third, Johnson implemented a strategy of shoots and Sylvia looked for a KO. Johnson was the eventual winner when after being rocked, he succeeded in a takedown and opened up Sylvia’s brow with some nasty elbows. The big men delivered the pain in slow motion, but the remainder of fights engaged at lightning speed.
Lowen Tynanes made ultraquick work of Felipe Enomoto by taking him down and landing a minute of unanswered blows from a mounted crucifix. The on-fire Tynanes post-fight interview can be watched here. Ryan Diaz tried to implement the exact same strategy against Yusup Saadulaev in the second fight. Saadulaev was able to worm and twist his way out, and bide his time until the second where he imposed his own trip and transition to top, getting a supertight Darce choke.
Flyweights Andrew Leone and Geje Eustaquio put on a rousing performance punctuated with lighthearted crowd pleasing antics. Leone’s gameplan was to work from clinches to takedowns, where he forced Geje to survive three rounds of backchoke attempts. Geje did more than survive, he fended off numerous chokes while throwing punches over his head to Leone’s face, and reversed the position several times. Leone’s grappling dominance won him the decision.
Kamal Shalorus wanted to repeat Leone’s grappling game plan as he went for trips, throws and singles throughout three rounds. But Eduard Folayang proved too tough to submit and on the feet he busted open Shalorus’ right eye. The distance fight that never let up went in favor of Shalorus. Less of a ground game ensued after that, as Phil Baroni came out with heavy hands looking to floor Nobutatsu Suzuki, while the Japanese kept him at bay with front kicks to try to gage his own KO. Suzuki got wobbled, but returned with a flurry of knees and fists of his own that sent Baroni to the mat in a fetal position – however a gruesome ankle break was the cause. Suzuki celebrated his ONE FC entrance with a TKO win. The ever-badass Baroni left on a stretcher – but he’s always sexy: check out his hilarious pre-fight video interview here.
Back out came the lighter fellows, with decorated Yasuhiro Urushitani facing sanda stand out Rey Docyogen. Docyogen’s side kicks and unorthodox stance are entertaining and he used them with nice counters. Urushitani looked to punch and take down, but was’t be dominant in either. A brief break provided a highlight moment of the night as Urushitani rushed Docyogen who met him with a flying kick. In the second, Docyogen’s kicks from in and out seemed to be pushing him to the forefront of the game, but in the third his evasiveness must have cost him the fight as the judges controversially sided with Urushitani. The crowd was not happy, but respectful.
The Bantamweight Grand Prix came to a head as finalists Masakatsu Ueda and Kevin Belingon took to the cage. Ueda did not want to face the heavy hands so implemented shoot after shoot throughout the first two rounds, forcing Belingon to defend on the ground, and defend a tight kimura. Round three saw Belingon feed Ueda a knee during one of his desperate shoots, and he proceeded to bloody him throughly. Ueda weathered the onslaught to end up in full mount and rained down the punches to the bell, landing him as the GP Winner. The two of them earned the Midas Fight of the Night for three rounds of pressing the action and tons of heart. Ueda was of few words but very happy in his post-fight video interview here.
The interim Bantamweight Championship ensues as the co-main event with Bibiano Fernandes across from Koetsu Okazaki. The five-round affair showcased very little of Okazaki’s abilities other than defense, as Bibiano repeatedly took his back. However, even with the seatbelt on and hooks in, the Brazilian was unable to finish the Japanese, and for the first time of the night the crowd grew restless. Frustrated himself, Okazaki went for a flying knee in the final stanza but was repaid with Bibiano’s jiu jitsu. Even while Okazaki gamely reversed and got out at the end, the decision and the belt were firmly in Fernandes’ grasp.
The Main Event – Featherweight Champion Honorio Banario defending his belt against Koji Oishi – brought the night to a climax. A tense four minutes saw the two face off and gage distance. The final minute was fireworks with a knock down by Oishi’s right cross, then Banario regaining composure to right hook Oishi into oblivion and end the round beating on him in stellar fashion. Saved by the bell, the opening moments of round two saw Oishi circling and Banario looking to cut him off. Banario made a slight move in and was met by a picture perfect right cross that sent him down and out, and passed his belt to the new Featherweight Champion Koji Oishi. The always-smiling Banario discussed what will be next for him in this video of the post-fight presser. Assisted by King of Pancrase Ryo Kawamura, Oishi spoke about his birthday win in this post-fight video interview here.
ONE FC 9 “Rise to Power”
May 31, 2013
Koji Oishi defeats Honorio Banario by knockout at 1:45 minutes of round 2
Bibiano Fernandes defeats Koetsu Okazaki by unanimous decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
Masakatsu Ueda defeats Kevin Belingon by unanimous decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
Yasuhiro Urushitani defeats Rey Docyogen by split decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
Nobutatsu Suzuki defeats Phil Baroni by knockout at 4:17 minutes of round 1
Kamal Shalorus defeats Eduard Folayang by unanimous decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
Andrew Leone defeats Geje Eustaquio by unanimous decision at 5:00 minutes of round 3
Yusup Saadulaev defeats Ryan Diaz by anaconda submission at 2:57 minutes of round 2
Lowen Tynanes defeats Felipe Enomoto by TKO due to referee stoppage at 2:41 minutes of round 1 Tony Johnson defeats Tim Slyvia at 3:25 minutes by TKO due to doctor stoppage of round 2