Marat Gafurov had never lost a fight and had already beaten Marting Nguyen once ahead of ONE: Quest for Greatness. So the Russian was understandably confident, but he underestimated the challenger who scored a devastating second-round knockout to snatch the featherweight title from the undefeated Russian.
In the opening round at Stadiun Negara on Friday night (local time), Gafurov seemed to be enjoying himself. Despite having won all six of his ONE Championship fights by rear-naked choke, the champion looked in no hurry to get the contest to the canvass, as he tried to test his striking against Nguyen.
A right uppercut from Gafurov hurt Nguyen and he capitalized to take the back of his dazed opponent. The Russian looked incredibly confident as he worked for what would have been a seventh rear-naked choke win in a row, but his opponent survived and escaped.
Gafurov had a broad grin on his face during the ensuing striking exchange and timed an overhand right from Nguyen to score a second takedown. The round finished with the Russian taking the back and working for a rear naked choke.
In the second stanza, Gafurov secured an early takedown, but Nguyen worked his way out. The Russian attacked with an inside left low kick, but the challenger, who had been switching stances all night, countered with an overhand right that landed flush.
Gafurov was left face down on the floor with his hands hanging limply by his side. The referee let Nguyen land a couple of follow-up shots before diving in to save the previously undefeated champion from further punishment.
The Russian protested the decision and appeared to storm out of the ring. But he clearly wasn’t intelligently defending himself and Nguyen was declared the winner with the finish coming just 1:27 into the second round.
The win takes the newly crowned champion to 9-1, while Gafurov drops to 15-1 after tasting defeat for the first time in his career. It represents a second successive defeat for an undefeated Russian titleholder in ONE Championship after Vitaly Bigdash lost his belt in June.
In the co-main event, lightweight Ev Ting (14-4) never looked like losing against Nobutatsu Suzuki (11-3-2). The difference in speed was immediately apparent and when the Malaysian got a takedown in the opening round, he wasted no time in finishing the Japanese veteran with a barrage of ground and pound.
Agilan Thani (8-1) didn’t manage such a dramatic finish, but the Malaysian welterweight dominated Sherif Mohamed (8-4) for 15 minutes to claim a lopsided decision win. There was also a very impressive victory for Kevin Belingon (16-5) who stopped Reece McLaren (9-5) with strikes in the opening round.
ONE: Quest for Greatness Full Results
- Featherweight Championship: Martin Nguyen defeats Marat Gafurov by Knockout at 1:27 minutes of round 2
- Lightweight bout: Ev Ting defeats Nobutatsu Suzuki by TKO (Strikes) at 3:29 minutes of round 1
- Welterweight bout: Agilan Thani defeats Sherif Mohamed by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
- Bantamweight bout: Kevin Belingon defeats Reece McLaren by Knockout at 1:02 minutes of round 1
- Flyweight bout: Gianni Subba defeats Riku Shibuya by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
- Women’s strawweight bout: May Ooi defeats Ann Osman by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:27 minutes of round 1
- Strawweight bout: Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke defeats Robin Catalan by TKO (Strikes) at 0:46 minutes of round 2
- Featherweight bout: Christian Lee defeats Keanu Subba by Submission (Armbar) at 1:11 minutes of round 3
- Featherweight bout: Emilio Urrutia defeats Edward Kelly by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
- Strawweight bout: Rene Catalan defeats Bu Huo You Ga by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
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