Tagged as the biggest event in ONE Championship history, A New Era is the promotion’s inaugural show in Japan, which took place at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. The historic night witnessed how the Filipino fighters, represented by the mixed martial artists of Team Lakay, rose to the challenge in the land of the rising sun.
However, Filipino world champions Eduard ‘Landslide’ Folayang and Kevin ‘The Silencer’ Belingon fell short in defending their world championship titles against their respective opponents whom they previously defeated.
In the main event of the night, Folayang succumbed to Japanese legend Shinya Aoki via first round submission. Aoki—whom Folayang personally considers as arguably the greatest submission artist in mixed martial arts history—pushed the Filipino to the fence, and eventually took him down.
The Japanese’s lethal grappling quickly transitioned into a locked-up triangle choke, which ended the bout at two minutes and 34 seconds on the clock. Aoki is now on a four-fight win streak; he finished all those matches as early as the first round.
Their rematch was undeniably one of the most anticipated in recent ONE memory. Folayang and Aoki first squared off in 2016, with the 34-year-old Baguio-native winning the fight. Now that they are even in terms of defeating one another, a trilogy bout for the Lightweight World Championship might soon be in the works.
Having mentioned trilogy, the third match between Filipino Kevin Belingon and Brazilian Bibiano Fernandes was not as action-packed as it could have been.
In the third round of the bout, where Fernandes was in an attempt to have Belingon submit through his impressive Jiu-Jitsu techniques, the latter issued illegal elbows to the back of the former’s head. The fight was halted, with Fernandes obviously in pain while he touched the stricken area.
Belingon was seen approaching Fernandes; the former looked dispirited as the latter couldn’t let off steam. Moments after, the referee flashed the red card, signalling the 31-year-old Belingon’s disqualification. Fernandes, consequently, reclaimed the Bantamweight World Championship title.
Belingon and Fernandes first met in 2016, where the Brazilian made quick work of the Pinoy via first round submission. The two faced off again last year, and by then the Baguio-native won via split decision. Their monumental trilogy match would have been one of the best fights of the tournament, until the referee’s decision.
The losses of Folayang and Belingon added fuel to fire. Earlier this year, their teammates Joshua Pacio and Geje Eustaquio also failed to defend their world championship belts.
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