The co-main event of ‘ONE on TNT I‘ ended in controversial fashion, as illegal blows rained on the parade of both protagonists.
American mixed martial arts legend Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez was called for landing accidental illegal strikes to the back of the head against #2-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus, which earned the Philadelphia native a red card and disqualification on Wednesday, 7 April.
The match started out with both men feeling each other out, as Lapicus sized up his iconic foe with leg kicks in the middle of the Circle.
But it did not take long for Alvarez to make his move. “The Underground King” shot in for a double-leg takedown, landed on top of the Moldovan bulldozer, and rained down punches near the Circle Wall.
Referee Justin Brown, however, quickly flagged Alvarez for hitting Lapicus on the back of the head and forced a break to allow for a five-minute recovery period.
However, when the recovery period ended, it was clear that Lapicus could not continue. With that, Brown gave Alvarez a red card and disqualified him at the 1:03 mark of the first round.
Alvarez was visibly frustrated after the decision, explaining that the actions came out of pure instinct. But the American wished his opponent well and hoped he could return home safely.
“The referee is here. Whatever call he makes, that’s the call, and I apologize,” Alvarez told ONE Championship’s commentary team following the decision.
“I hope Iuri is totally fine because this game is so dangerous, and all I care about is that everyone is sincerely safe and they go home safe to their families. I’m praying for Iuri right now, and I hope he’s fine.”
With the win, Lapicus improved to 15-1 and kept a stronghold of the #2 lightweight spot in ONE’s Athlete Rankings.
There’s no doubt the Moldovan, along with Alvarez, will keep an eye on the “ONE on TNT II” main event, which features ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian “The Warrior” Lee defending his belt against Timofey Nastyukhin.