When two of the hardest hitters in ONE Super Series went toe to toe at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS, a finish seemed inevitable.
Dutch-Moroccan strikers Ibrahim “Mr. Cool” El Bouni and Tarik Khbabez had claimed a staggering 60 knockouts between them heading into their contest on Friday, 26 October in Yangon, Myanmar.
Ultimately, it was Khbabez who added another spectacular finish to that tally in the third round.
He delivered the TKO at 2:26 of the final frame, and established himself as the man to beat in the light heavyweight division.
Tarik Khbabez unleashes a volley of power punches on Ibrahim El Bouni to earn an impressive TKO victory at 2:26 of Round 3!TV: Check local listings for global broadcast
Posted by ONE Championship on Friday, 26 October 2018
El Bouni started the kickboxing match-up looking slick and mobile as he tried to counter Khbabez with straight shots in the opening stanza. His superior counter-striking, head movement, and footwork appeared to give him the edge early on.
Khbabez’s continual forward pressure and heavy-handed punches started to find their mark, however, as “Mr. Cool” was rocked in the closing exchanges of a wild opening round.
Even referee Atsushi Onari lost his shoe in the chaos as the crowd leaped to their feet to hail an all-action start to the bout.
The momentum swung dramatically in Khbabez’s favor in the second frame as he came marauding forward – loading up with power shots and hurting “Mr. Cool” on multiple occasions to the body and head.
The 26-year-old’s shots to the midsection were particularly effective, as winging punches forced El Bouni to the canvas for an eight count.
Khbabez’s power was dominating the contest, and another set of heavy-handed shots sent the 25-year-old down for the second time.
To his great credit, “Mr. Cool” returned to an upright stance and came swinging back into the contest. However, he simply could not keep the relentless SUPERKOMBAT Heavyweight Champion at bay, and he was punished to the midsection by more thumping strikes.
Remarkably, given the one-way traffic in the second round, the bout continued into the third, but El Bouni had no escape from Khbabez’s constant pressure. In his efforts to survive, he was given a yellow card by the referee for persistent clinching.
El Bouni was hanging on, and Khbabez was on the hunt for a finish. After a barrage of shots against the fence, the referee stepped in to stop the damage and halted the action with just 34 seconds remaining in the bout.
The finish took Khbabez’s career record to 44-5-1, and he built on his TKO of Hong Kong heavyweight Alain Ngalani in his previous ONE Super Series outing four months ago.
Now with eye-catching stoppage wins in two weight classes in ONE Super Series, the Dutch-Moroccan powerhouse has now firmly established himself as a force to be reckoned with, at both heavyweight and light heavyweight.