Tyler McGuire made a huge splash in his ONE Championship debut.
On Friday, 13 July, the undefeated American overwhelmed former ONE Welterweight World Title challenger Luis “Sapo” Santos en route to a unanimous decision victory at ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, which took place at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
This compelling welterweight showdown began with a bang, as McGuire — a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force — narrowly missed with a spinning kick, which caused the Brazilian to retaliate with a jumping front kick.
Before long, McGuire turned to his ground game and dragged the bout to the canvas, where he enjoyed a prolonged period of stifling top control.
Santos, flaunting all kinds of veteran savvy, ultimately managed to return to his feet. But after completing a hip toss, he once again wound up underneath his American foe, where he spent the remainder of a tough first round.
The American began the second frame by tucking his hands behind his back, and then unleashing a series of flashy strikes, including a dazzling flying punch off the cage.
McGuire tried baiting Sapo into throwing some strikes, but eventually gave up and charged at him instead. He locked up a clinch, and though “Sapo” executed a takedown from that position, it was the American who wound up on top again.
Once again, he refused to give his adversary an escape route and rode out the rest of the round, softening up his foe with ground and pound.
Following brief pauses due to a pair of inadvertent fouls, action resumed in the third stanza with each man appearing more and more motivated.
A reinvigorated Santos attempted to turn the tide. He attacked with punches and kicks, but once again, the American’s takedown was successful. McGuire advanced to side control and methodically dropped more ground strikes.
In the final minute, “Sapo” managed to explode back to his feet and sought to change the course of the contest with a decisive blow, but McGuire was simply too elusive. He impressively evaded his opponent to avoid receiving any damage for the remainder of the affair.
All three judges agreed that the American was the better athlete on this night, and awarded him with the unanimous decision victory.
It was an impressive promotional debut for McGuire, who improves his flawless record to 11-0, and instantly finds himself in World Title contention.