Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Oishi, Fernandes claim ONE FC titles in Manila

By James Goyder  /  Contributing reporter

Newly crowned ONE FC featherweight champion Koji Oishi of Japan, top, celebrates after his victory over Honorio Banario of the Philippines in Manila on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

ONE FC: “Rise to Power” took place on Friday night in Manila and the 20,000 capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena was packed to the rafters for a mixed martial arts (MMA) card headlined by a featherweight world title fight between the Philippines’ own Honorio Banario and Japan’s Koji Oishi.

The Filipino was making the first defense of the belt he won in February, but to the disappointment of the partisan Manila crowd, he finished the night empty-handed after Oishi finished the fight with a vicious right hand early in the second round.

It was the Japanese fighter’s 36th birthday and he celebrated in style by winning the ONE FC 145 pound (65.8kg) title. Oishi improves to 24-9-10 with the victory, but had to come from behind after finding himself on the wrong end of a flurry of punches from Banario at the end of the opening round.

Afterward, the birthday boy said that winning the belt was the highlight of his 13-year MMA career.

“Honorio Banario is a great fighter and he hurt me in the first round, but I am very happy to win and for me, becoming ONE FC champion is my greatest moment as a fighter,” he said.

In the co-main event, Bibiano Fernandes cemented his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet with a dominant decision win over Koetsu Okazaki. The Brazilian controlled the action from start to finish, but was frustrated by his opponent’s ability to survive multiple submission attempts.

The five-round fight was for the ONE FC interim bantamweight title, meaning that Fernandes adds another belt to a collection that is already one of the most impressive in MMA. He has already won the Dream 135 pound (61.2kg) and 145 pound belt and is a five-time Brazilian jiujitsu world champion who is now 14-3 in his MMA career.

Earlier in the night, Phil Baroni and Nobutatsu Suzuki went to war in a fight that was brief and brutal. US veteran Baroni made a fast start and appeared to be beating his opponent, who was making his ONE FC debut, but the momentum of the fight shifted dramatically at about the midway point of the first round.

After being the aggressor in the early exchanges, the 37-year-old American began to tire and Suzuki came on strong with a series of knees. Baroni collapsed to the ground and the fight was waived off as he covered up to protect himself from a barrage of blows, with replays showing he had also dislocated his ankle.

There was disappointment for the local fans as all five Filipinos on the card were defeated, with Kevin Belingon coming up short against Japan’s Masakatsu Ueda in the final of the ONE FC 135-pound Grand Prix. Both walked away with “Fight of the Night” honors, but it was the Japanese fighter who took home the trophy after a unanimous decision win.

An announcement is scheduled for next week about the next two ONE FC events, with Asia’s biggest MMA organization rumored to be expanding into new territories, including Taiwan.

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