The fans in Bangkok, Thailand, were left on the edge of their seats on Friday, 24 March, as ONE Championship stacked four intense bouts onto the preliminary card of ONE: IRON WILL.
The results included the reemergence of hulking knockout artist Alain “The Panther” Ngalani as a world title contender, and that paved the way for a huge main card to follow. Here is a quick recap of all the action.
Kritsada Kongsrichai suffers unfortunate disqualification
Thai wrestling champion Kritsada “Dream Man” Kongsrichai entered the Impact Arena to a huge ovation as the first Thai native on the card. Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan was keen to cause the upset, but things did not turn out the way either athlete would have wanted it.
After initially looking to show his own improved wrestling game, Catalan stayed in the clinch for much too long with “Dream Man,” and paid the price as Kongsrichai landed a huge slam.
However, while the bout was initially declared a TKO win for Kongsrichai, ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong reversed the decision after further review, disqualifying the Thai warrior for the use of an illegal suplex – the move was already briefed as banned before the bout.
Alain Ngalani makes winning debut as a light heavyweight
Nobody expected Alain “The Panther” Ngalani and Mongolian newcomer Ariunbold Tur-Ochir to go the distance in their light heavyweight tilt, but both men showed excellent skill and conditioning to battle for three closely-contested rounds.
It was Ngalani, the Hong Kong native, who got the nod by the slightest of margins. He picked up his first decision win in nine ONE Championship outings.
Tur-Ochir clearly thought he could out-work the four-time Muay Thai and kickboxing heavyweight champion, and chose to wear him down with a wrestling heavy clinch attack on the fence. His game plan was clear: punch into range, and then press his opponent against the fence to try and tire him out.
“The Panther,” however, had other plans, and finally got to show the improved conditioning, wrestling, and grappling skills that he was worked so hard on in at his Impakt MMA gym.
Ngalani displayed glimpses of his trademark flashy striking style with lightning-fast high kicks, and acrobatic spinning kicks. More notably, he showed his stamina and acumen on the ground, as he controlled, and attacked, Tur-Ochir for much of the second stanza in the most dominant spell of the match.
When all was said and done, it was an evenly-matched affair, but Ngalani’s kicks, and takedowns, were enough to sway the judges.
He picks up a good win in his light heavyweight debut, and moves closer to his wish for a rematch with Aung La N Sang. Tur-Ochir was unsuccessful in his promotional debut, but looks to be a solid addition to the light heavyweight roster.
Unfortunate injury mars middleweight clash
All-American wrestler Jake Butler took on Brazilian master grappler, Gilberto “Giba” Galvao, in a back-and-forth middleweight tussle that was shaping up nicely, until it came to an abrupt end early in the second round.
Butler lunged in with punches to start the second, but it appears his knee gave way. The American instantly fell to the ground, clutching his leg. The bout was stopped, and Galvao was awarded the TKO victory by injury.
Prior to the unfortunate ending, it was a well-contested bout that was really beginning to pick up steam. Galvao charged forward with heavy hands, and even managed to take down the wrestling specialist. He almost locked up a kimura, with only the grit of his opponent keeping him in it.
After seeing out the tough spot, Butler landed some big hits of his own, with heavy ground and pound and tight back control. The first five minutes left fans eagerly anticipating more, but evidently, it was cut short.
Butler returned after a long layoff only to suffer a potentially serious injury, which is a huge blow to his career. However, it allowed Galvao to push his record to an impressive 30-6-1.
Sunoto opens the show in dominant fashion
In the opening contest of the night, Malaysia’s Hisyam “Zephyrus” Samsudin met Indonesian athlete “The Terminator” Sunoto in a bantamweight contest that went the full 15 minutes.
When all three rounds were in the books, the judges awarded the Jakarta native with the unanimous decision victory.
It was the wrestling of “The Terminator” that separated the two, with Samsudin unable to score with his renowned boxing skills due to the intense threat of the takedown.
Throughout the first two rounds, Sunoto found takedown after takedown. He pinned ”Zephyrus” to the canvas for prolonged periods, and controlled the action on the ground. The Malaysian was saved by the bell in the final moments of the second frame when he was caught in a deep choke attempt.
Samsudin was offered another chance to make an impact in the third and final stanza, but the Malaysian was unable to capitalize, seemingly hemmed in by Sunoto’s wrestling prowess. Both men probed with strikes, as they went tit-for-tat with strikes until the final bell.
“The Terminator” extends his record to 8-3 with a comfortable victory, and now finds himself on a three-bout win streak. He will undoubtedly get a step-up in competition next time around.