One half of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semi finals is now set after a pair of jaw-dropping finishes at Friday’s ONE: ‘Call to Greatness’ from Singapore.
Grappling specialist Ariel Sexton moved into the second round of the tournament after staging a massive comeback against former lightweight title challenger Amir Khan, who was fighting in front of a home audience.
The story for the fight ended up being told in two parts, with Khan dominating early and then Sexton finding a way to finish late in the contest.
As the action got started, Khan was able to put together the perfect counter to Sexton’s constant takedown attempts as he blasted away at the Renzo Gracie trained fighter with a barrage of punches any time he dove inside to look for a leg.
Khan opened up a cut on Sexton’s head early in the fight and his confidence seemed to swell with each combination he landed on the feet.
The second round saw more of the same with Sexton just winging huge overhand punches before trying to swoop inside for the takedown. Khan was quick to pick up on his opponent’s strategy and he finally landed his best punch of the fight with a staggering right hand down the middle that crushed Sexton and sent him crashing to the canvas.
Khan jumped down to the mat with a flurry of punches in an attempt to get the finish but Sexton somehow survived and that really shifted the momentum in the fight.
With Khan seemingly running out of steam, Sexton took full advantage by dragging him down to the mat and peppering him with punches to help set up his submission.
Once Khan was forced to defend the strikes, Sexton quickly transitioned to take the back, lock on the rear naked choke and just wait for his opponent to either tap out or go to sleep.
The grimace on the face of Khan (11-5) told the story and he was finally forced to submit as Sexton celebrated one of the biggest wins of his career while moving onto the next round of the Grand Prix tournament.
Afterwards, Sexton (13-4) stared down his next opponent — a ferocious prospect from Turkey, who might just be the dark horse favourite to win the entire tournament after the show he put on Friday.
Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev will be the man to face Sexton in the next round of ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix following his latest knockout finish on Friday.
The mauler from Turkey needed just 25 seconds to obliterate former lightweight title contender Ev Ting in their quarter final round matchup at ONE: ‘Call to Greatness’ in Singapore.
‘Dagi’, who only has one blemish on his record in a fight where he was disqualified for knocking out his opponent with illegal soccer kicks, has looked unstoppable ever since arriving in ONE Championship.
His latest performance did nothing to dissuade that opinion after running through Ting in impressive fashion.
All it took was an early exchange in the opening round that saw Arslanaliev blast Ting with a perfectly timed overhand left that dropped the New Zealand native to the ground.
Arslanaliev quickly followed up with a barrage of punches on the mat that forced the referee to rush into rescue Ting (16-6) before he took any more damage.
The win puts Arslanaliev (7-1) into the semi finals against Sexton where he will likely be a heavy betting favourite to punch his ticket to the finals of the Grand Prix later this year.
Former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke (10-4) was able to earn revenge in his rematch with Jeremy Miado (8-4) after suffering a shocking knockout to him last year.
It was the first time in Dejdamrong’s legendary career that he had been knocked out and showed an abundance of caution in the rematch to ensure the same thing didn’t happen again.
Miado was definitely attempting to repeat his last performance as he came out guns blazing with a barrage of punches, looking to overwhelm the 40-year old Thai fighter.
The game plan appeared to be working well but then Miado inexplicably went for a takedown late in round and he nearly paid for it as Dejdamrong was able to sweep him and lock on a neck crank from the top.
Miado eventually worked his way free but he never found his rhythm again.
The second round saw another takedown attempt thwarted by Dejdamrong but this time he locked onto a front headlock before unleashing a barrage of knee strikes to Miado’s head. While it appeared many of the shots went to the back of Miado’s head, referee Yuji Shimada kept a watchful eye as Dejdamrong continued to blast away with knees.
Finally after so many unanswered shots and Miado not making any real attempt to escape, the referee was forced to stop the contest with Dejdamrong earning the victory in the second round.
After splitting their past two fights, it’s easy to predict Dejdamrong facing Miado for a third time in the future after the Thai legend evened up their series at one win a piece.