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, April 7, 2013

Bleachers Brew #367 One fight night in Singapore

A bloody Bashir Ahmad wins via unanimous decision over Shannon Wiratchai. My fight of the night.
This appears in the Monday, April 8, 2013 edition of the Business Mirror.

One fight night in Singapore
by rick olivares

One FC: Kings and Champions lived up its billing in many ways.

First of all, all the fights (save for the undercard match between Jake Butler and late replacement Swain Cangco -- who was hopelessly overmatched and thankfully sent out of there in no time at all -- as well as the Jens Pulver-Masakatsu Ueda bout) were thrilling, explosive, and intense. Yes, even the Brock Larsen-Melvin Mahoef fight that had the two pacing and stalking each other before pouncing before they began to pound each other into ground beef.

Some fighters who previously were not impressive such as Russian Yussup Saddulaev came out in terrific shape and fought magnificently even though he lost.

I loved it when the crowd went back and forth chanting for either Eddie Ng or Arnold Lepont (although the cheers for the latter were by far louder). Ditto with Brock Larsen and Melvin Mahoef when small group of American fans began to egg the former on while other fans implored the latter to fight his way out of trouble.

Of the eight bouts in the televised event (not counting the two preliminary cards), there was only one fight that ended in the first round and that was the loss of Filipino One FC debutant Rene Catalan to Brazilian Alex Silva. Four fights ended in the second round while two went the distance.

Second was the terrific atmosphere at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. This was my fourth One FC event and the second one I attended in the Lion City. I thought that the previous Singapore card, One FC: Rise of Kings, was the best thus far (and will be remembered for its spectacular knockouts) that I’ve watched and that includes the succeeding Kuala Lumpur event but this one shoots right up to the top of the charts.

From the opening card to the last one, the crowd was in to it. They loved the how most of the fights shifted momentum from one fighter to another so that you never knew who was going to win. Well, maybe except for Shinya Aoki.

I am certainly sure that the crowd did not know some of the other fighters yet they showed their appreciation by applauding not only after a sensational fight but even as the fighters made their way to the cage. That was pure class.

Third, One FC: Kings and Champions was a show. There was trash talking (Vietnamese Thanh Vu against Filipino Kevin Belingon), there was showmanship from the irrepressible Frenchman fighting out of Malaysia in Arnold Lepont (who could forget his taunting Aoki in Manila with his faux book, Beating Aoki for Dummies, that he waved during the weigh in). There was the Dutchman Manhoef entering and dancing to the famous Argentine tango “Por una Cabeza” and Thahn Vu boogieing to The Jackson Five classic, “Blame it on the Boogie”.

There was some dark comedy when Brock Larsen literally ran from Melvin Mahoef when he got rocked. Larsen recovered and defeated the hulking Dutchman. But I bet you no one is going to forget Larsen running for dear life!

And there was the revenge factor as Aoki defeated Boku after the latter defeated Zorobabel Moreira, the former's best friend, in One FC: Return of Warriors in Kuala Lumpur last February. Aoki cried unabashedly after the fight not just because he was the new light heavyweight champion but also because he was able to avenge his friend Moreira.

Fourth, I loved One FC: Kings and Champions because of how the sport of MMA was in full display. In the early days of MMA, it was to initially test which discipline or fight style was better than the other. Now it is not enough that one is solely good at striking or boxing or even wrestling. Should the fight go to the mat, then you’re cooked or bound to tap out. One must know more if he wants a shot at the big time.

One FC: Kings and Champions sent a clear message to the fighters and even the fight fans: you must train hard like it’s the fight of your life but more importantly, you need a game plan and you need to impose it on your foe.

Most will pooh pooh Shinya Aoki’s one-sided victory over former One FC Light Heavyweight Champion Kotetsu Boku. But the truth is, Aoki, who isn’t great at striking, opted to not to trade strikes with Boku. He took Boku’s strength away and brought the fight to the canvass where is he dominant. Aoki took one good shot from Boku then decided that he had enough. When Aoki, the “Grandmaster of Flying Submissions” said, “I’m not giving you a chance to get more licks in”, he took down Boku in the second round and like an anaconda with its prey all tied up, it was all over.

This was very similar of the Vuyisile Colossa-Lowen Tynanes match in the previous One FC: Return of Warriors held in Kuala Lumpur. Tynanes, who was impressive in his destruction of Eduard Folayang in URCC Dekada, was rocked by Colossa when they stood toe-to-toe, but Tynanes, whose strength is in wrestling and submission took down Colossa and once it got there, a rear naked choke finished off the South African Muay Thai fighter.

Once on the floor, it doesn’t mean certain doom. Catalan engineered fantastic submission defense and nearly pulled off a win in his MMA debut but inexperience showed.

Kevin Belingon, who was maligned by Vietnamese fighter Thahn Vu in the days leading up to fight night, was aggressive from the moment referee Kenichi Serizawa called both to “fight”. He landed powerful leg and body kicks then threw some mean shots that rocked Vu. Belingon never let up, never allowed Vu to settle down or even counter, and ended up with an impressive victory.

For me, the match of the night was Pakistani Bashir Ahmad against Thai Shannon Wiratchai. The latter opened up a cut on the former early in the first round that it had to be momentarily stopped for a ring doctor to check if Bashir could go on. While the Pakistani was being attended to Wiratchai gestured to his opponent as if to say, “What’s going on? Let’s fight or call it off.”

The fight continued as Bashir showed that he was far from done. He was a bloody mess but he battled back and won a unanimous decision. In a post match interview with Bashir, he was not only eloquent but event magnanimous in his victory.

Placing second to that fight is the Eddie Ng-Arnold Lepont match that went back and forth before Ng, who just returned from a yearlong recovery from an injury, defeated the colorful Frenchman via armbar submission.

I used to write only about UFC and the URCC. One FC helped me broaden my MMA horizons.

Now here’s to One FC: Rise to Power on May 31 in Manila. 


Supplementary reading:

Shinya Aoki vs Kotetsu Boku: The death stare

Fil-Australian Christine Hallauer as One FC Ring Girl

Post-match interview with Bashir Ahmad

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