12 Apr - 
ONE Championship 93 results: Martin Nugyen, Joshua Pacio shine with title-worthy knockouts

It seemed like it would be nearly impossible to top the beautiful knockout that ended ONE Championship 93’s co-main event. But, somehow, champ Martin Nguyen managed.

After taking a few leg kicks from Narantungalag Jadambaa (14-6) in the first round of today’s featherweight title headliner, Nguyen (12-3) responded accordingly with vicious low kicks of his own in the second. They weren’t enough to seal the deal – but did just enough to set up the perfectly-executed flying knee that would.

Nguyen, who at one point held titles on both the featherweight and lightweight divisions, got to retain the featherweight crown at the expense of 43-year-old Jadambaa’s two-fight winning streak.

“ONE Championship 93: Roots of Honor” took place at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. The main card streamed live on ONE Championship’s app, after prelims on Facebook and Twitter.

The first frame of the main event didn’t see much action. For most of it, Jadambaa marched forward and tried to shorten the distance against Nguyen, who was able to maintain it with side movement, front kicks to the body and straight punches. As the round advanced, the roles of center-of-the-cage aggressor alternated a bit, with Nguyen also pressing Jadambaa. Leg kicks thrown in both sides, however, posed questions as to what they would mean in the following rounds.

They were quickly answered.

Jadambaa was the early agressor on Round 2, throwing a few kicks to the body, but Nugyen remained unfazed. After brushing off an overhand by Jadambaa, Nguyen threw a low kick that clearly had Jadambaa hurt. He followed it up with yet another kick to the knee, cornering Jadambaa against the cage before sealing the deal with a picture-perfect flying knee to the face.

Joshua Pacio reclaims strawweight majesty with brutal head kick

The build-up got a little slow at times, but ending was certainly spectacular in ONE Championship 93’s co-main event.

After showing off his arsenal of spinning kicks for three somewhat even rounds against against a composed Yosuke Saruta (19-9-3), Joshua Pacio (17-3) was able to seal the deal in the fourth with a less flamboyant, yet brutally effective head kick.  

With Pacio’s knee landing square on the side of his face, Saruta face-planted to the ground. No follow-up shots were needed.

The knockout win meant Pacio got to re-claim the strawweight title that had been taken by Saruta, himself, in January.

Pacio was the author of the bout’s first solid strike: a spinning-back kick that landed flush on Saruta’s stomach. Saruta, however, ate it right up and didn’t take long to respond with some strikes of his own. Saruta was able to get the fight to the ground within the first two minutes of the bout, but didn’t do much once he had top control. Pacio stayed calm and kept Saruta’s leg secured before managing to get back up. The two were somewhat tentative on their exchanges, throwing calculated strikes. Pacio advanced with a knee only to be promptly halted by a massive right that dropped him. Pacio, however, was able to keep his composure even under fire and managed to get himself back up and end the round on the feet.

The two were tentative returning to the second, both throwing far-and-in-between kicks and keeping their guards up. Pacio once more threw a solid spinning-back kick to Saruta’s stomach, but it didn’t seem to faze him too much. Saruta advanced with fast hand combos that didn’t land before a failed attempt to use Pacio’s own kick to take him down. The two were still studious as a mostly uneventful second frame ended. 

Pacio was still invested on spinning strikes as they returned to the third, but Saruta was on alert. Pacio found some success in an exchange shortly thereafter, but Saruta responded with a takedown shoot. The two were quickly back on their feet, though. There, Saruta took another spinning back kick to the stomach, but didn’t wince. An overhand right for Pacio seemed to land, but didn’t rock Saruta, who tried to advance with an overhand of his own as Pacio threw another spinning kick. Saruta advanced with a few more punches before yet another even round ended.

The two were against the fence early in Round 4, but soon they were back to exchanges similar than the ones from the previous rounds. Pacio landed a good kick and seemed to have little problem absorbing Saruta’s offense. Pacio threw a few more kicks that didn’t land until, well, one did. As Saruta loaded up on a punch, he went right into the head kick that did him in. Pacio’s knee landed flush on Saruta’s head, and no follow-up was needed to prompt the ref to call it and the strawweight crown to exchange hands.

Wada decisions Balart, meets Demetrious Johnson next

In a match that involved some intriguing strategic choices by both men, Tatsumitsu Wada (21-10-2) did just enough to best Gustavo Balart (8-2) in the judges’ scorecards.

The unanimous decision stamped Wada’s ticket into ONE Championship’s flyweight tournament semifinals, where he’ll meet former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson.

The much shorter man in the cage, Balart found success with his hands against an opponent who didn’t do much to capitalize in his reach advantage. But the decision to forego his notorious wrestling until the final round, possibly aided by some accidental illegal strikes, may have cost Balart the call in a close bout.

The two took their time to engage on Round 1, with the taller and rangier Wada circling the cage as Balart attempted to close the distance. Balart was first to land, finding success with throwing power-laced short punches – particularly with his left hand. Wada was timid and threw little in the first round, seemingly studying the distance and using side movement to stalk his shorter opponent. Balart was the one moving forward, throwing short two-punch combos and the occasional low kick. Balart seemingly rocked Wada with a punch seconds before the first bell rang.

Going back into the second round, the two fighters showed similar movement. Balart was the agressor, advancing with powerful hands and kicks to the inside of Wada’s leg, while Wada mostly circled and threw sparsely. The bout was halted early in the frame when Wada complained of a seemingly accidental head butt, but he didn’t need the full five minutes to return. The two exchanged for a bit, before Wada once more complained about a headbutt. Balart was immediately aggressive as they returned, landing some hands on Wada, who did little to capitalize on his massive reach advantage.

Wada upped the volume in the third round, throwing with precision and taking over the role of the forward-moving aggressor at times. Balart was bloodied and ate some solid kicks and punches, but kept pressing the action until finally landing a massive takedown. Wada managed to get himself back up somewhat quickly, though, and a second takedown attempt by Balart failed. The two went back into a striking battle in the final seconds of the bout. Balart insisted on the two-punch combos that had proved effective throughout the bout and it was enough.

The win put Wada back on the win column after a loss in January, while Balart, a ONE Championship debutant, had a two-fight winning streak snapped.

Fu Chang Xin shows grit, but relents to submission by Leandro Issa

Fu Chang Xin (9-2) showed some serious elasticity in escaping a tight armbar by Leandro Issa (17-5), but his grit only got him so far. After Issa transitioned to a triangle choke, Xin was no longer able to escape, prompting the ref to call the bout at 3:03 minutes of the first round of the 68-pound catchweight bout. Issa got himself back on the winning track after a loss that snapped a three-fight streak, while Xin had a six-fight winning streak snapped.

With Luis Sapo injured, James Nakashima stays unbeaten

It was a strange one, but former LFA champion James Nakashima (11-0) was able to keep his unblemished record with a second-round finish of Luis Santos (65-12-1) in a middleweight bout. After a balanced first round, Nakashima used a leg kick by Santos to secure a takedown. The two scrambled for a bit on the ground, but Santos would soon verbally submit. The issue was unclear, but it seemed like something was wrong with Santos leg, possibly hurt during the takedown. Santos is back to the losing column after a win over Daichi Abe last October, while Nakashima added a second ONE Championship win to his unbeaten record.

Edward Kelly dominant en route to TKO win

Sung Jong Lee (4-5) was not afraid to put himself in harm’s way in order to hunt for a submission. And though he did manage to grab ahold of a limb or two, the strategy just wasn’t that effective against a cool-and-collected Edward Kelly (12-6). It took some persistence – and a yellow card after an illegal, seemingly accidental kick – but Kelly was able to inflict enough punishment to prompt the ref to step in at the 2:51 mark of Round 2.

Full ONE Championship 93: Roots of Honor results include

MAIN CARD (ONE Championship app, 8:30 a.m. ET)

  • Martin Nguyen def. Narantungalag Jadambaa via knockout (flying knee)  – Round 2, 1:07
  • Joshua Pacio def. Yosuke Saruta via knockout (head kick) – Round 4, 2:43
  • Tatsumitsu Wada def. Gustavo Balart via unanimous decision
  • Leandro Issa def. Fu Chang Xin via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:03
  • James Nakashima def. Luis Santos via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 0:56
  • Edward Kelly def. Sung Jong Lee TKO (strikes) Round 2 – 2:51

PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, Twitter, 6 a.m. ET)

For more on ONE Championship: Roots of Honor, check out the MMA Events section of the site.