ONE Championship opened up its 2019 calendar of events with a spectacular show inside the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday, 19 January.
The Japanese athlete won the belt after five thrilling rounds of action, and there were plenty more highlights on the undercard, which featured knockouts, submissions, and back-and-forth battles from mixed martial arts and ONE Super Series athletes.
Here is how some of the stars from Jakarta reacted to their performances.
New World Champion Shows Respect For His Rival
View this post on Instagram
It was a very tough fight, I didnt realize that I won the match until I heard the judges. Pacio was much stronger than I anticipated for and Im sure we will be fighting soon again. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to fight! #onechampionship #yosukesaruta # # #shooto #AbemaTV #WeAreONE #MMA #joshuapacio
Saruta was clinical in his epic 25-minute encounter with “The Passion,” and as the judges’ scores were read out, it was clear that there was not much to separate the two elite strawweights.
In the end, two judges favored the Japanese man, and he picked up the biggest accolade of his career by becoming the ONE Strawweight World Champion.
Humble in victory, “Tobizaru” was quick to credit his opponent for the way he made him battle hard for all five rounds to take the gold.
Down But Not Out For Pacio
I would like give back all the praise to my Lord Jesus Christ for keeping us safe during the competition and to all our…
They say the mark of a true champion is how they rebound from defeat. Team Lakay‘s Pacio has done it before, and he vows to do it again after losing his World Title in a closely-contested five-rounder.
Saruta was open to a rematch, and “The Passion” will return to training in Baguio City, Philippines to work on improving for his next shot at glory.
Mongkolpetch Excels On The Big Stage
Thailand’s Mongkolpetch Petchyindee Academy showcased his mastery in the art of eight limbs when he overcame Alexi “Phet” Serepisos in the ONE: ETERNAL GLORY co-main event.
His clinch dominance and punishing knees were too much for his Kiwi foe, and they helped him earn a clear unanimous decision on his debut in The Home Of Martial Arts.
Mongkolpetch was thankful to his new organization for the experience, and the legions of new fans he has picked up on the way.
Rivals In The Cage, Friends Outside Of It
How awesome is this…they went to war last night and play ping pong together tonight.Much respect to Edward Kelly and Team Lakay for your friendship and competition.This is ONE Championship!!!
Despite the intensity of their battle, Lee and Kelly were all smiles as they met the following night for a friendly game of ping pong. It looks like their skills in this sport might need a little work compared their ability in the cage, though.
Edward Kelly Takes His Loss On The Chin
All is well! Thank you Indonesia for the whole experience. I didn't get what I want and I trained but still and always…
“The Ferocious” was defeated by Lee in Indonesia, but he still had a lot to be thankful for. After more than 15 years in mixed martial arts competition, the veteran has seen it all, and can look at his setback with some perspective.
His teammates like Eduard Folayang, Geje Eustaquio, and Honorio Banario have shown how the Team Lakay squad can rebound from adversity, so maybe Kelly can do the same in the rest of 2019 and rise back up the featherweight ranks.
Pucci Thanks His Legendary Adversary
Bruno “Puccibull” Pucci picked up a landmark win over former ONE Lightweight World Champion Kotetsu “No Face” Boku on Saturday night, and it is clear he had a huge amount of respect for the Japanese athlete.
Pucci has picked up two quick victories in the last few months, and has started 2019 as he means to go on with a first-round rear-naked choke over the veteran.