Aliakbari Retires Vera; Pacatiw And Hu Score Big Finishes On ONE 164 Main Card
ONE Championship’s final showcase of 2022 featured a little bit of everything at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Whether it was rising stars continuing to climb the ladder, a battle between hometown heroes, or a legend calling it quits on their career, the main card of ONE 164: Pacio vs. Brooks was never short on excitement.
Here, we recap the first four main card bouts from Saturday, December 3.
Aliakbari Sends Vera Into Retirement With Quick TKO
In a grudge match that had been simmering for some time, it was Amir Aliakbari who had the last laugh.
The Iranian star made a statement by taking out former longtime ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera in front of the Filipino-American icon’s adoring fans.
The early part of the fight took place on the feet, with Vera controlling distance and keeping the former Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion guessing with feints and stance switches.
Eventually, Aliakbari found his range and exploded, taking “The Truth” to the ground and landing vicious ground-and-pound until referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the action after 3:37 of round one.
Aliakbari has now won two straight fights and has placed himself within striking distance of a ONE Heavyweight World Title shot.
Afterward, Vera announced his retirement in an emotional post-fight interview.
The Filipino-American placed his gloves on the canvas and officially drew the curtain on a legendary career that launched the heavyweight division in ONE Championship.
“You just witnessed ‘The Truth’s’ very last fight in MMA. I wish I could’ve gone out on a win. I broke my damn hand again!” the 45-year-old said.
“I love you all. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, MMA, ONE Championship. I’ll be around.”
Hu Yong Flattens Eustaquio With First-Round Knockout
In need of a dominant performance, “Wolf Warrior Hu Yong returned to winning ways by notching a first-round knockout of former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje Eustaquio.
The Chinese scrapper put on a clinical performance that reasserted him as a threat in ONE’s flyweight MMA division following his recent bump in the road against Yuya Wakamatsu. He immediately took command of the bout and was in control from start to finish.
Ultimately, that handiwork paid off when a powerful straight right hand from the 26-year-old dropped Eustaquio and scored the finish at 4:43 of the first frame.
It was Hu’s 10th victory overall and his sixth in his last seven fights. The rising flyweight star will be looking forward to key matchups in the division after an explosive close to 2022.
Jeremy Pacatiw Dazzles With Submission Of Tial Thang
Filipino rising star Jeremy Pacatiw earned the biggest win of his career with a sensational submission of Myanmar wrestling specialist Tial Thang.
The first round of this bantamweight MMA showdown featured tremendous action on both the ground and feet, with both men landing punishing blows throughout a furious five minutes.
The finish then came in the second frame. In a wild grappling scramble, the Team Lakay representative chained together submission attempt after submission attempt, ultimately locking up a clean triangle choke to force the tap at 1:17 and bring the roaring Manila crowd to its feet.
After the fight, a jubilant Pacatiw was awarded a US$50,000 performance bonus for his finish.
Now the owner of two victories inside the Circle, “The Juggernaut” is just 26 years old and seems poised for a step up in competition.
Drex Zamboanga Outworks Sevilleno To Extend Winning Streak
The bantamweight MMA bout between Drex “T-Rex” Zamboanga and ONE Championship newcomer Adonis Sevilleno had it all – intense striking exchanges, grueling grappling scrambles, and slick submission attempts.
But in the end, Zamboanga took the unanimous decision nod over his fellow Filipino to stay unbeaten in ONE and nudge his professional record to 14-5.
When the action kicked off, it was Sevilleno – winner of the recently concluded “ONE Warrior Series Philippines” reality show – who took the fight to his compatriot, outstriking Zamboanga and dragging him to the canvas. From there, he searched for submissions but couldn’t lock in a finishing move.
As the rounds progressed, the fight tilted in “T-Rex’s” favor, as he controlled both the striking and grappling exchanges. And by the end of the bout, Zamboanga found himself in top control raining down a flurry of punches to seal the victory.
The stellar performance was Zamboanga’s third win in ONE, and he now holds victories at flyweight, lightweight, and bantamweight. The 29-year-old also celebrated the result alongside his sister, Denice Zamboanga, who was victorious in her atomweight MMA bout against Lin Heqin at ONE on Prime Video 5 on Friday night.