It’s been three years since Vitaly Bigdash last competed inside the Circle, but on Friday night, the Russian fought as if he hadn’t missed a day.
The former ONE Middleweight World Champion defeated “King Kong Warrior” Fan Rong by third-round submission in a 95-kilogram catchweight contest at ONE: WINTER WARRIORS II on 17 December, improving his already stellar 90 percent finishing rate.
From the opening bell, it was all systems go for the 37-year-old Bigdash, who slowed his quicker opponent with chopping leg kicks before stuffing two takedown attempts.
He then grazed the Chinese star’s glove with a spinning backfist that woke up “King Kong Warrior.” Fan responded by uncorking two kicks – one to the Russian’s lead leg and the second to his midsection. Bigdash caught the latter and swept Fan to earn the first successful takedown of the bout.
But in the process, Fan – a BJJ specialist – grabbed hold of his foe’s limb in search of an armbar. The Russian escaped, and after a brief stand-up battle, he closed out the round with another takedown and unloaded strikes from the top.
The former titleholder dialed up his aggression at the start of the second stanza, connecting with a spinning heel kick and a rib kick that hurt his 28-year-old rival.
Then, just under two minutes into the canto, the Akhmat Fight Team representative scored another takedown, but Fan turned it into another submission attempt.
This time, Bigdash escaped the gripping heel hook before transitioning to mount, where he uncorked heavy elbows to Fan’s head and thunderous punches to his ribs.
Going into the third frame, “King Kong Warrior” looked frustrated. He knew he needed a finish to extend his 14-2 record, but the Russian had other plans.
After touching Bigdash with a left hook-right jab, the Chinese athlete unloaded another right punch and shot for a double-leg. He dragged his opponent down, but Bigdash locked his arm around Fan’s exposed neck.
From there, the veteran adjusted the lock and squeezed on a guillotine choke until Fan tapped at the 0:41 mark of the round.
The win pushed Bigdash’s record to 11-2 and moved him closer to a shot at current ONE Middleweight World Champion Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder.