Nobutatsu Suzuki claimed the inaugural ONE FC world welterweight title in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, beating Brock Larson by unanimous decision after five hard-fought rounds. The UFC and WEC veteran faded badly down the stretch after Suzuki hurt him with a body kick early in the fight.
Suzuki (11-1-2) came into this fight as an underdog due to the superior experience of Larson (37-8-1), who holds a black belt in BJJ and has fought some of the biggest names in the sport. The Japanese fighter comes from a Karate background and stalked his opponent in the opening exchanges without landing any significant offense.
Towards the end of the opening round Larson landed his first takedown of the fight and went to work with elbows and punches from top position, with Suzuki unable to escape and fortunate to hear the sound of the bell.
The roles were reversed towards the end of the second round when Larson was on the receiving end of a series of knees to the body after a failed takedown attempt and then took a devastating kick to the midsection.
It took Larson a long time to get up off the floor and make his way back to the corner at the end of the round and he never looked the same fighter from that point onwards. From this point onwards a pattern was established of Suzuki moving forwards while the American circled out and shot for takedowns, which were invariably stuffed.
Whenever Larson failed in a takedown attempt, Suzuki would sensibly walk away and wait for him to get up. Referee Yuji Shimada became increasingly frustrated by the time the American was taking to get to his feet, repeatedly warning him.
Whereas earlier in the fight Larson had been able to counter effectively with punches, by this stage, he looked exhausted as Suzuki easily evaded his takedown attempts and landed enough knees and kicks to ensure the fight was a foregone conclusion by the time the scorecards were revealed.
Suzuki won by unanimous decision and afterwards dedicated the win to the passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Next in line for the 36-year-old, who works full time in a law office, is likely to be a title defense against Ben Askren in Singapore on May 30.
In the co-main event, Dae Hwan Kim (10-0-1) preserved his undefeated professional record with a first-round submission win over Kevin Belingon (12-4). The Filipino looked close to finishing the fight with a bulldog choke, but the Korean escaped and sank in a rear naked choke, forcing the tap at the 4:39 mark.
Flyweight Adriano Moreas (10-1) also scored a submission win with Japanese veteran Yasuhiro Urushitani (21-7-6) succumbing to a rear naked choke at 3:48 in round two, while the other big 125-pound fight of the evening went the way of Andrew Leone (7-2), who put on a dominant display to defeat Shinichi Kojima (13-6-5) by unanimous decision.
Three winners at lightweight were Kamal Shalorus (9-3-2), Kotetsu Boku (21-9-2) and Peter Davis (8-3), who prevailed at the expense of Ariel Sexton (8-3-1), Arnaud Lepont (10-4), and Waqar Umar (3-1), respectively.
Nobutatsu Suzuki def. Brock Larson by Unan Dec, R5
Dae Hwan Kim def. Kevin Belingon by Sub (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:39, R11
Adriano Moraes def. Yasuhiro Urushitani by Sub (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:48, R2
Kamal Shalorus def. Ariel Sexton by Unan Dec, R3
Andrew Leone def. Shinichi Kojima by Unan Dec, R3
Kotetsu Boku def. Arnaud Lepont by TKO (Strikes) at 4:06, R1
Peter Davis def. Waqar Umar by Sub (Verbal Tapout) at 3:07, R2
Herbert Burns def. Harris Sarmiento by Unan Dec, R3
Saiful Merican def. Khim Dima by Split Dec, R3
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