Aussie featherweight Martin Nguyen made an impactful return to One Championship on Saturday night, brutally dropping his Japanese veteran Kazanori Yokota in the first round before finishing the match with strikes on the ground.
The event, One Championship: Quest for Power, took place at the Jakarta Convention Center.
Nguyen’s approach to fighting Yokota was a little different from his previous opponent in Christian Lee. He was patient in initiating his strikes early on, picking his shots, calm and collected in the feeling out process, as was Yokota. Yokota opted for push kicks to keep Nguyen at bay, while also attempting strikes on an in-and-out basis. Nguyen moved forward aiming for an opportunity using his trademark overhand right. Good head movement from the Aussie made it difficult for Yokota to connect. Yokota had his hands down low, making it much easier for Nguyen to find is target on occasions. Nguyen also mixed it up with low kicks to keep Yokota guessing.
A perfectly timed overhand right connected on Yokota’s jaw as he was rushing in, and that dropped him heavily onto the canvas. Nguyen quickly pounced and began to attack with ground and pound, forcing the referee to put a halt to the match at 3:36 of the opening round.
With the win, Nguyen furthers his undefeated streak to 4-0 and progresses his impressive professional record to 8-1. Also with the win, Nguyen is put in good stead in potentially securing a rematch with current featherweight champion, Marat Gafurov, who the Aussie lost to back in 2015.
In the main-event, Vitaly Bigdash of Russia retained his middleweight title against Myanmar native, Aung La N Sang. The first two rounds of the five round championship bout were arguably relatively close to judge, but it was obvious that La Nsang may not have been fully prepared, having taken the fight on late notice as he began to fade quickly. A head kick from Bigdash which dropped La Nsang early on in round three also slowed him down exponentially. In the remaining rounds, Bigdash was dominant in all facets of mixed martial arts, ultimately proving to be too strong in the clinch and on the ground for La Nsang, which resulted in Bigdash retaining the One middleweight championship.
David Lewellin is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.