Costa Rican warrior Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton regained some crucial momentum at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER on Friday, 13 July.
The New York-based grappler rebounded from the disappointment of his last bout with Ev “E.T.” Ting with a spectacular third-round victory over Japanese Shooto Welterweight Tournament Champion Kota “Kong” Shimoishi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The bout was a highly-competitive affair that saw both men share successes as the momentum swung in both directions.
Shimoishi showed no sign of nerves on his first appearance inside the ONE Championship cage. The Japanese contender started fast and pushed Sexton back in the opening exchanges, looking to use his upper-body strength to outmuscle the Costa Rican.
But “Tarzan” is a dangerous proposition wherever the bout goes, and he made a big breakthrough midway through the opening round. After shipping a series of knees from Shimoishi, he uncorked a perfectly-placed uppercut to drop the Japanese star and halt his early momentum.
The 36-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion went to work on the ground for the remainder of the round and almost earned a finish with a tight rear-naked choke, but the bell sounded just as Shimoishi looked like he was about to tap.
The back-and-forth action continued in the second round, as Shimoishi showcased some beautiful judo technique, with one high-amplitude hip throw prompting gasps from the crowd in the Axiata Arena.
Just as the Japanese athlete appeared to be regaining control of the contest, the pendulum swung again as Sexton dropped Shimoishi for the second time with a huge right hand in the final second of the round. “Kong” was saved by the bell.
After the pair touched gloves at the start of the third round, Sexton went on the attack, taking Shimoishi to the mat. He stepped over the Japanese athlete’s head, locked up a reverse triangle choke, and then applied an Americana to force the quick tap from the Osaka native. It was one of the most impressive submission victories of 2018.
The win raised Sexton’s record to 12-4 and re-established him as a serious threat to the division’s best athletes. His grappling skills, punching power and ability to improvise all make him as dangerous a contender as you will find at the top of the ONE lightweight division.