Ben Royle took a methodical approach to notch an impressive finish in his ONE Championship debut.
Many expected this featherweight mixed martial arts bout to be a grappling-heavy matchup, as Royle is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and Thomas is a wrestler. However, it turned out to be the exact opposite.
Both men came out for the opening bell looking calculated and cautious as they circled each other, trying to find a comfortable rhythm to settle into. A few exchanges were had on the feet, but neither Royle nor Thomas did much damage.
In the second frame, the action picked up. Thomas increased his output but was met with a hard low kick from Royle. As the American tried to stay on his feet, the Brit unloaded a barrage of low kicks that further buckled the legs of his rival.
However, Royle did not get over-aggressive and stayed true to the plan he had put in place. He waited for the right opening to present itself as Thomas protected his injured limb. Although that moment didn’t come in round two, it did appear in round three.
The American managed to regain some stability in his right leg between the second and third rounds, but Royle immobilized his foe early in the final stanza with another thudding leg kick.
While the two exchanged strikes on the feet, it was Royle who landed with a stunning left uppercut that slipped through Thomas’ guard and sent him backward.
As the American tried to recover in the corner of the ring, an incoming boxing combination from Royle forced the referee to step in and call an end to the action at the 3:27 mark of the third round.
The Phuket Top Team representative’s tactical game plan went off without a hitch. Royle earned an important victory in his promotional debut and moved his career record to 5-1.