Martial arts competition is no easy task, especially at the professional level, where the room for error is incredibly small. 28-year-old Thai star Rika “Tinydoll” Ishige certainly found that to be true on Saturday, 24 March.
Ishige met Filipino debutante Angelie Sabanal in a women’s atomweight bout at ONE: IRON WILL in Bangkok, Thailand, and things did not go her way.
“Tinydoll” has figured in some memorable contests in her ONE Championship career since making her debut in March of 2017, and her improvements have been apparent with each appearance inside the cage.
However, one aspect of Ishige’s overall game has proven to be her undoing – her striking.
Against Sabanal, a Philippines’ Muay Thai silver medalist, Ishige showed the grit and toughness to hang with her foe on the feet, but ultimately fell short of victory, as Sabanal took the action right to Ishige with her pinpoint combinations.
In the very first round, the two women traded a handful of spirited strikes at the center of the ONE cage. As Ishige pressed the action, Sabanal was content to lay back, and counter with her boxing.
“Tinydoll,” who previously showed off her submission skills either chose not to, or was unable to utilize her grappling ability to her advantage.
During the second round, Sabanal began to circle away from Ishige, who had difficulty cutting off the cage and finding her elusive opponent. The Filipina used the full length of the cage to run circles around Ishige, who failed to keep her opponent in check.
In the third and final round, action was confined to the clinch, as both women traded inside knees on multiple occasions. The Thai’s corner instructed her to actively look for the takedown, and bring the bout to the mat where she would enjoy a grappling advantage, but Sabanal proved incredibly difficult to bring down.
Nearly every takedown Ishige attempted was be well-defended, and in instances when the Thai was successful in taking the action to the mat, Sabanal popped right back up. On the feet, the Filipina would prove to be just slightly ahead of “Tinydoll” at every juncture, beating the Thai to the punch all night long.
In the end, Sabanal did just enough for all three judges scoring the contest to award her with a hard-earned unanimous decision victory. It was an impressive debut performance for the Filipina, who starts her career on solid footing, and pulled off a major upset.