Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

One Fighting Championship: The Rise and Return of the Kings

Shinya Aoki chokes Arnaud Lepont. Take a look as Lepont is about to explode.
This appears in the Monday, October 8, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.

The rise and return of the kings
by rick olivares pic from one fc

For some it was a night of redemption. For others, it continued their ascent into the Mount Olympus of mixed martial arts. While for a few, they’ll have to realize that it will take more than talk to walk the walk.

The One Fighting Championship returned to Singapore with a mighty exclamation point with its aptly event-theme ‘Rise of Kings” at the island state’s sold out Indoor Stadium. Fighters were crowned champions and the sport made a huge case as the fastest rising sport in the world.

Matt Chilson, Kevin Belingon, and Jens Pulver put their careers back on the winning track with contrasting wins over their opponents after poor outings in the recent One FC: Pride of a Nation held in Manila last August 31.

Chilson, who in his last fight nearly had his head kicked off by Shannon Wiratchai (it was declared a no-contest due to an illegal kick), turned a takedown by Indonesian wrestler Ngabdi Mulyadi to his advantage as he managed to stay on top. After Chilson escaped a near guillotine choke, he unleashed a series of strikes and knees on his foe leaving referee Yuji Shimada no choice to but stop the fight 1:03 into the second round.

After Belingon was overwhelmed from the get-go by Korean Soo Chul Kim in Manila (that led to his second successive One FC loss), “The Silencer” silenced his critics with an impressive win against Russian submission specialist Yusup Saadulaev.

The Filipino started out very aggressive with a series of kicks and knees to Saadulaev’s body. “The Maestro” as Saadulaev in known by, attempted a take down that failed and he found himself in all sorts of trouble as Belingon had him a side control then locked his arm for a paintbrush submission and a TKO at 3:18 minutes of Round 1.

Pulver, who considered retirement after the beating he received from Filipino Eric Kelly in Manila, took a lot of early punishment from young Chinese striker Zhao Ya Fei who landed several shots to the American’s right face. For much of the first round, it looked as if the American who has been trying to resuscitate a fading career was going to be once more on the receiving end of a fusillade of punches and kicks. But he would occasionally throw a powerful jab or two to let his opponent know that he still had some power in him.

In the second round, Pulver unleashed a left hook that floored Fei and sent his mouth guard skittering away. The man they call Li’l Evil immediately pounced and a series of brutal punches and knees that had the crowd roaring. But he couldn’t put Fei away as the bell ended the round and the clinch.

In the third round, Fei kicked Pulver twice in the groin in the span of a minute that caused the American to crumple to the canvass in pain. Referee Shimada gave Fei a yellow card that assured that the 20-year old would not come away in his One FC debut with a win. Pulver could not continue as he was carried out on a stretcher but he did come away with a win via unanimous decision to give him his 27th win in 45 fights.

The middleweight fight between Pancrase middleweight champion Ryu “Rambo” Kawamura, who has made a name for himself as a knockout artist, and Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef was not only entertaining but also ended with one of the evening’s most incredible knockouts.

Kawamura entered wearing unusually tight and small trunks. Then Manhoef entered to the Argentine tango composer Carlos Gardel’s “Por Uno Cabeza” that translated means “by a head of a horse” that refers to winning a race by one head’s distance.

Then the Japanese fighter proceeded to do the spaghetti legs dance as popularized by former Liverpool Football Club goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar that once did to distract opposing penalty takers to success. It was a strange tactic employed by Kawamura and at one point Manhoef dropped his hands in frustration. “I came here to fight not to dance,” exclaimed the Dutchman after the fight in a conversation with this author by the VIP Section.

Manhoef landed a few shots but with time running down in the first round, he threw a thunderous right hook that sent Kawamura crashing to the canvas. He got off another strike to the fallen Japanese that had his body twitching before the referee put a stop to the fight.

In the first championship bout of the event, Soo Chul Kim faced off with Brazilian Leandro Issa for the One FC Bantamweight belt. Kim was more cautious against Isaa as opposed to his quick start against Belingon in Pride of the Nation. Kim took the full measure of his Brazilian opponent before striking in the second round as an overhand right connected and dropped the latter. The Korean rained several hammer fists before the referee put a stop to the match to give Kim a knockout win 15 seconds in the round.

An overjoyed Kim, wept when he was handed the championship belt. Through an interpreter, his honesty had the crowd roaring in approval: “I did my best. I feel like I am over the moon and it’s my birthday.”

Prior to the One FC Lightweight Championship bout between Japanese stand up specialist Kotetsu Boku and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion Zorobabel Moreira, television fight analyst Steve Dawson said that one punch can change a complexion of a match. And this match was testament to that.

Boku who was reeling in the face of the onslaught of Moreira who regained his wits after being knocked down in the first round. The Brazilian unleashed a barrage of kicks, knees and strikes at Boku for the entire second and much of the third round. The Japanese was back pedaling like some kung fu drunken master caught Moreira with a right that dropped him lack a sack of potatoes. Boku threw in a few more strikes before the referee threw himself in the middle to protect the glassy eyed Brazilian.

The One FC Lightweight Championship was the biggest achievement of the 11-year veteran who after the match quipped of the beating he took: “Tomorrow I will have a problem going to the toilet.”

The Boku-Moreira fight that went back and forth with one counter offensive after another was the perfect set up for the event’s Super Fight between trash talking Arnaud Lepont and submission specialist Shinya Aoki. All week long, Lepont, the brash fighting Frenchman has been goading Aoki with the books that had “Beating Aoki for Dummies” on the cover and other threats such as breaking his idol’s arm. If Lepont should have known anything (and the official fight souvenir program served warning that the fight will end violently and swiftly), Aoki is a man who prefers to do his talking inside the ring.

From the opening bell, Aoki threw a jab at Lepont’s face momentarily stunning him. Seconds later, Aoki took down the Frenchman then locked him up in a triangle choke submission. Lepont was turning purple when the referee put a stop to the fight in only 1:25 as Aoki was declared the first ever One FC Super Fight winner. 

Now if any of the challengers read the program, it is predicted that Aoki will reign long and supreme. The king of the cage is back.


People ask me if I love watching MMA. Of course, I do. I used to write a lot about the UFC events but stopped because of work load concerns. Doing the One FC fights will hopefully see me get back into the flow of things Here are more thoughts about the fight from last night.

With Kevin Belingon after his fight (above) and with Philippine Star's Joey Villar and Yahoo Philippines' Bob Guerrero. 

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