Mixed Martial Arts

Saputra And McLaren Dominate, Balart Topples Silva In MMA Action At ONE 162

Eko Roni Saputra submits Y2K

ONE Championship kicked off a martial arts doubleheader on Friday, October 21, with ONE 162: Zhang vs. Di Bella.

The nine-fight card included five mixed martial arts contests between several of the promotion’s highly respected veterans and fast-rising stars.

Here, we recap all the MMA action from the ONE 162 lead card and main card in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

McLaren Destroys Ramos With Striking Clinic

Fifth-ranked flyweight contender Reece McLaren put on another commanding display to earn his second consecutive win at the expense of Brazilian foe Windson Ramos.

But surprisingly, the BJJ black belt did not rely on his elite grappling to get the job done. Instead, the Australian showcased the improved striking he’s honing under Muay Thai legend John Wayne Parr and nabbed the victory with a dominant stand-up performance.

In the opening frame, the 31-year-old ripped through his rival’s guard with multiple jab-straight combinations. One of those threw Ramos into the Circle Wall, and another sent him to the canvas just before the bell. The rest comfortably connected on the chin.

“Lightning” continued to make his opponent look like a punching bag in the second round. He used his left jabs to gauge the distance while landing solid rights on the Checkmat representative.

When he was done there, the Boonchu Gym athlete mixed up his targets and switched to body hooks and jab-right kick combinations, which eventually paved the way to a win.

Ramos was unable to continue after the end of the second stanza, handing McLaren an impressive TKO victory, bumping his overall record to 16-8, and solidifying his position in the top-five flyweight rankings.

Balart Beats Former Strawweight King Silva In Tight Battle

Gustavo “El Gladiador” Balart and Alex “Little Rock” Silva had a methodical catchweight meeting inside the Circle, and following 15 closely contested minutes, #4-ranked strawweight Balart squeezed past the former divisional king via split decision.

Balart was active with combinations that utilized his right inside leg kicks and overhand left punches. Silva covered up well, but the Cuban’s power set the tone early.

From there, Silva took the bout to the canvas by pulling guard and went for multiple heel hooks against the former Olympic wrestler.

After both men showed their hands in the opening round, they made adjustments to not allow sustained success over the next 10 minutes. Balart showcased his defensive grappling against one of the sport’s best BJJ practitioners while threatening with power strikes.

In the end, two of three judges sided with “El Gladiador,” who won his second consecutive matchup against a former ONE Strawweight World Champion following his last victory over Yosuke Saruta.

Balart’s overall record now stands at 11-4, and the rising talent will certainly be eyeing the top of the division for his next outing.

Saputra Dominates Yodkaikaew For Seventh Straight First-Round Finish

Opening up the main card, Eko Roni Saputra continued his stunning run in the flyweight MMA division and entered the ONE Championship record books by recording his seventh consecutive first-round finish.

The Indonesian sensation forced a tap from Yodkaikaew “Y2K” Fairtex via heel hook at 2:16 of the opening stanza, earning a US$50,000 performance bonus for yet another highlight-reel victory.

Saputra took control almost instantly, pressuring his Thai rival with a relentless wrestling game. He scored two successive takedowns, but both proved futile as Yodkaikaew got back to his feet.

Still, the 31-year-old was determined to take the Muay Thai specialist into dark waters, and a fireman’s carry did just that. From there, he moved into half-guard and peppered his opponent with strikes to the face.

Yet again, Yodkaikaew stood up, but Saputra took him back down to the mat. And when “Y2K” tried to escape from the Indonesian’s grappling onslaught, he left his right leg exposed.

Saputra locked in his grip on the ankle, dropped to the canvas, and tightened the squeeze, which forced a quick tap. With another lightning-fast win, it appears the rising star could be heading toward a matchup with a top-five flyweight contender next.

Belakh Survives Armbar, Earns Hard-Fought Debut Win Over Issa

Leandro “Brodinho” Issa and Artem Belakh displayed pure heart in their three-round bantamweight mixed martial arts war that saw Belakh get his hand raised by unanimous decision. The Russian’s performance could be defined by one single word – resilience.

The Tiger Muay Thai representative spent much of the first round on his back, survived an incredibly tight armbar in the second stanza, and dug deep in the final frame with constant offensive flurries.

Whenever it seemed that the Brazilian would assume control, Belakh would find a way out.

Meanwhile, the 26-year-old debutant continually stormed back with sharp knees up the center and combinations that made Issa wear the damage on his face.

In the process, the Russian proved he could overcome adversity and grabbed an important victory over a longtime ONE Championship veteran.

With his gutsy win, Belakh improved his professional MMA record to 9-1 and announced himself as a tough customer in the bantamweight division.

Emilbek Uulu Scores Dominant First-Round Finish Of Wilhelm

Kicking off the lead card, Ruslan Emilbek Uulu butted heads with Ben Wilhelm in a welterweight MMA battle between two exciting finishers, and it was the 32-year-old “Snow Leopard” who added stoppage win number 14 to his tally.

Wilhelm went on the front foot to start things off, but it didn’t take long for Emilbek Uulu to close the distance and impose his will. The Kyrgyz athlete mauled his rival with smothering wrestling, repeatedly throwing the American to the canvas and attacking from back control.

As the round was coming to a close, Emilbek Uulu landed another takedown and again moved to Wilhelm’s back. “Snow Leopard” quickly searched for the rear-naked choke, and upon hearing the 10-second clapper, squeezed with all his might.

That late effort was enough to elicit the tap at 4:58 of the first frame, pushing Emilbek Uulu’s professional record to an impressive 19-3.

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