Team Lakay dreamed of a 5-0 sweep to start to 2020 at at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’ on Friday but only four of them emerged triumphant. In the main event Joshua Pacio kept the strawweight belt around his waist courtesy of a split decision win.

The 24-year-old Baguio City native authored a masterful performance versus one-time division kingpin Alex Silva of Brazil in the main event. Pacio welcomed everything the Brazilian grappling wizard had to offer from the get-go, surprising him with a superb takedown defense and inhibiting Silva’s advances for submission.

Pacio imposed his will in the second frame, firing signature wushu kicks to his opponent’s leg and body. In the third round, it was clear as daylight that Silva wanted the action on the canvas, but the champion never acceded to his request, uncorking a knee to the chin.

Increased intensity

Breathing heavily after his failed takedown and submission attempts, Silva became a stationary target for Pacio, who turned up the volume of his punches in the fourth stanza.

In a last-ditch effort, Silva successfully took Pacio down to the mat in the fifth and last round. However, the Team Lakay phenom easily returned to his feet and picked up where he left off in the toe-to-toe trade, drilling the Brazilian’s midsection with spinning back-kicks.

The exhausted Silva pushed for a takedown with 30 seconds remaining on the clock, but Pacio caught him with a guillotine choke, holding onto that position until the bell.

After five punishing rounds two of the three cageside judges awarded the victory to Pacio who scored a split decision win and improved his mixed martial arts record to 19-4. On the other hand, Silva fell to a 9-5 standing.

Biggest victory

In the co-headliner of the evening, Pieter Buist (17-4) attained the biggest victory of his professional career as he toppled Filipino icon Eduard Folayang (22-9) in a lightweight showdown.

Buist, who filled in for Pakistan’s Ahmed Mujtaba, proved to be a tall order for the former lightweight champion as Folayang had difficulties in landing his strikes because of the Dutchman’s length and height advantage.

Giving away five inches to Buist, Folayang showcased a different facet of his arsenal in the first round, opting to wrestle with his lanky opposition. He fished for the finish in the dying moments of the period, almost fastening a kimura lock before resetting to lock in a guillotine choke.

The tall and rangy Buist had Folayang in trouble midway of the second round, when he latched on a triangle choke. As his confidence grew, the Dutchman rattled the Filipino with his long head kicks.

The same kick hurt Folayang in the third stanza, putting him on wobbly legs. The Team Lakay captain took a few minutes to recover from the blow before he scored a crucial takedown.

In the end, two of the three judges favored the courageous efforts of Buist, having his hand raised by split decision.

Local winners

Prior to Folayang’s disappointing defeat, three other members of Team Lakay had came out victorious at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’. Flyweight Danny Kingad (14-2) outlasted China’s Xie Wei (5-3) in a rugged dogfight to put himself back on the winning track.

Kingad looked a step ahead on all fronts in the opening salvo, tagging the Chinese stalwart with a left hook-right uppercut combination before slamming his foe on the mat that drew a thunderous roar from the crowd inside the 20,000-capacity Mall Of Asia Arena.

Xie, who appeared to be gasping air from his mouth at the start of the second period due to the Filipino’s overpowering ground game, had minimal success in landing elbow shots and kicks in the stand-up exchanges.

But as soon as Kingad started to change levels and shoot for takedowns, Xie offered no effective offense to prevent the Team Lakay representative’s attack.

Xie came alive in the third and final round, but he was caught for intentionally committing a head-butt and a knee to the back of the head. In the last 90 seconds of the encounter, Kingad pulled out every trick from his sleeve to salvage a unanimous decision.

Impressive showing

ONE Warrior Series alumnus Lito Adiwang (11-2) put together another impressive showing in his sophomore appearance on the promotion’s main roster, making quick work of Thailand’s Pongsiri Mitsatit (10-5) via first-round submission.

In the opening moments of the strawweight bout, ‘The Thunder Kid’ almost furnished the finish by dropping Mitsatit with a lashing kick to the rib cage and then raining down a plethora of punishing knees to the head.

Although Mitsatit managed to survive the initial onslaught from his Filipino cage counterpart, it did not take Adiwang too long to wrap it up as a wild scramble on the ground led him to catching the Thai’s arm with a kimura lock.

Without ample space to make an escape, Mitsatit had no other choice but to concede, giving Adiwang his second-straight win by way of submission.

Tone setter

Setting the tone for Team Lakay was Filipina atomweight Gina Iniong (9-4), who dominated Indian boxer Asha Roka (4-2) in the grappling department to cruise to a clear-cut unanimous decision victory.

Billed to be a battle between two fighters who have striking backgrounds, Iniong flipped the script, taking her opponent down to the mat with ease and then applying a tremendous amount of pressure with her sturdy top control from bell to bell.

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist punctuated the marquee match-up by grinding out Roka further on the ground, which was enough to warrant a landslide win on the scorecards.

ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’, Manila, January 31st
Joshua Pacio def. Alex Silva via Decision (Split) retains strawweight title
Pieter Buist def. Eduard Folayang via Decision (Split)
Danny Kingad def. Xie Wei via Decision (Unanimous)
Muay Thai: Petchdam Petchyindeeacademy def. Momotaro via Decision (Unanimous)
Shoko Sato def. Kwon Won Il via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:05 of Round 1,
Tatsumitsu Wada def. Ivanildo Delfino via Decision (Unanimous)
Muay Thai: Anne Line Hogstad def. Alma Juniku via Decision (Unanimous)
Lito Adiwang def. Pongsiri Mitsatit via submission (Kimura) at 3:02 of Round 1
Gina Iniong def. Asha Roka via Decision (Unanimous)
Muay Thai: Rodlek PKSaenchaigym def Chris Shaw via Decision (Unanimous)
Jenny Huang vs. Jomary Torres ends in No Contest