Lee dusted off the disappointment of her loss to China’s Xiong at the same venue back in March, prevailing courtesy of a rear-naked choke in the dying seconds of the bout’s final round to snap her two-fight losing streak.
In a fitting finale to the first event of Sunday’s double-header, Lee overcame some early adversity to storm home in the final round and set up a mouth-watering trilogy fight with the ‘The Panda’.
Xiong came out of the gates fast and quickly established her dominance on the feet, as Lee ate a string of shots through the first round.
Lee battled back in the second round on the back of some superb grappling, landing some weighty knees to the head as the bell sounded.
Both fighters exchanged the upper hand through rounds three and four, before ‘Unstoppable’ seized the ascendancy on the back of her renowned grappling prowess to seal the deal in dramatic fashion.
With the win Lee improves to 10-2 while Xiong drop to 14-2. The former retains her atomweight title while the latter is still the strawweight champ and a trilogy fight appears inevitable.
Pace and pressure
Johnson overwhelmed Kingad with his pace and pressure in what was a frenetic duel to set up a title clash with Adriano Moraes for the Flyweight belt.
The underdog Kingad offered plenty for Johnson to negotiate in the first round, but “Mighty Mouse” was able to get the better of the scrambles, then threatened with a late Kimura as the round wound to a close.
Johnson ramped up the intensity in the second round and the Filipino struggled to cope with his opponent’s relentless offence, forced to fend off multiple submission attempts from the American.
The Team Lakay product held tough through the final round but ultimately had no solution to Johnson’s complex puzzle. The American improves to 30-1-3 while Kingad drops to 12-2.
In the opening bout of the main card, Christian Lee put on one of the best performances of his young career to date with a comprehensive unanimous decision win over Saygid Arslanaliev in ONE’s Lightweight Grand Prix final.
Filling in as in injury replacement for Eddie Alvarez on just 10 days notice, ‘The Warrior’ sent a message to the rest of the division with a three-round manhandling of ‘Dagi’ to add the Grand Prix title to his Lightweight world championship.
Dagi started with a flurry but quickly faded, as Lee weathered the storm then took control of proceedings with some masterful grappling.
It was all Lee in the second and third round, as he mounted ‘Dagi’ on almost at will and landed some heavy ground and pound on his way to a straightforward judges’ decision.
Highlight reel finishes
American Muay Thai ace Janet Todd provided a highlight reel finish with a brutal head kick knockout of Belarusian newcomer Ekatarina Vandaryeva.
After a convincing first round, “J.T” unleashed the cleverly disguised shot to send her opponent prone, and Vandaryeva was unable to answer the referee’s count.
In the first ONE Super Series contest of the day, Thai great Sam-A Gaiyanghadao put on a clinical display of Muay Thai striking to score a second round knock-out win over France’s Darren Rolland.
Sam-A tagged Rolland with a perfectly-placed short left-hand to switch Rolland’s lights off in the to celebrate his birthday in style.
Victorious veteran, rising star
The Japanese veteran controlled the first two rounds with a slick display of grappling and while Thani fought back admirably in the third, it wasn’t enough to prevent falling on the wrong side of the judge’ split decision.
The 20-year-old set the tone early with a heavy overhand right to drop Ishige to the mat in the opening minute of the bout. Ishige managed to survive the first-round onslaught but had little answer for the power and pressure of “Strong Heart Fighter”, who cinched in a pretty belly-down arm bar in the second stanza to force the tap.
‘Thunder Kid’ scored an early takedown and worked a side headlock that evolved into an improvised Americana choke.
Ikeda’s rugged defence eventually gave way, and what looked to be a dislocated arm gave him no choice but to concede a TKO loss and hand the Filipino his sixth consecutive win.