Zhao Zhi Kang and “Tank” Ma Xu Dong engaged in an entertaining all-China battle, with hard strikes, high-amplitude takedowns, and slick submission offence all on show in their thrilling encounter.
Zhao, a Chinese Sanda Champion, managed to lock in a tight guillotine to render his opponent unconscious at 1:08 in the final round at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS in Guangzhou, China on Saturday, 7 July.
Although there was plenty of action, the first frame was a stop-start affair due to several illegal strikes from SHLC MMA’s Ma.
“Tank” was given a yellow card by referee Olivier Coste after knees to the back of the head and two low blows, marring an otherwise exciting round in which Zhao landed effective long punches and kicks, while Ma replied with powerful overhands and hooks.
Ma came out strong in the second round, again looking to put his whole body weight into his left hook and overhand right. However, Zhao was able to see them coming and evade most of those looping shots.
The Shanxi Xindu Martial Arts athlete scored with hard punches and elbows on the ground after a good takedown, and used his reach to dictate most of the round.
“Tank” appeared to be swinging for a finish to salvage the bout, but he was not setting up his strikes, and this allowed Zhao a gap to land a jumping round-kick to the head.
As Ma tried to close him down to recover, Zhao secured a guillotine choke. He jumped guard and, as they hit the mat, he tightened it up, and the lack of oxygen caused his opponent to lose consciousness.
At just 23 years of age, Zhao showed great composure in every area – particularly considering the painful illegal blows he had to endure in the opening minutes.
By improving his mixed martial arts record to 24-4 he will be an exciting addition to the upper echelons of the ONE roster.
Ma may have been wild and, at times, off target, but his pressure made for an exciting contest, and fans will look forward to seeing him compete in ONE Championship again.