The world’s smallest fighter won again at ONE 162 and is on the cusp of a title shot. Gustavo Balart stands just 4’11” but that hasn’t stopped him having a successful career as a mixed martial artist.

He beat a former champion to record his third straight win in Kuala Lumpur tonight. Balart was already ranked at #4 and established himself as a genuine contender with this victory

Balart was going up against former strawweight champion Alex Silva and, as always, the Cuban was significantly smaller than his opponent. But that didn’t stop the southpaw from looking to land hard overhand lefts right from the opening bell.

Silva took a very strategic approach and looked to use his height advantage to land spinning back kicks and downward elbows. In the opening round he attempted to secure two heel hooks but Balart was able to survive on both occasions.

Reach advantage

Silva holds a black belt in BJJ but seemed content to make this a striking match, knowing how great his reach advantage was. The Brazilian kept his hands low and looked to stay in the pocket but Balart was marginally busier and secured top position in the second round after his opponent pulled guard.

Sensibly Balart elected to stand and looked to land more punches to his opponent’s head and body. Silva scored with his right elbow from close ranger but the Cuban shook it off and went right back to work.

Heading into the third the Brazilian looked confident but Balart was the one doing the lion’s share of the damage, mixing up the punches with low kicks. Silva would land the most eye catching shot of the fight in the final round, catching his opponent with a spinning back kick to the face.

But Balart was throwing with greater power and volume and even threw in a takedown for good measure although Silva popped straight back up again. It gave the judges a difficult decision but two of them voted in favour of the Cuban who wins by split decision.

He improves to 11-4 and will move up the rankings even further after beating a former champion. A title shot potentially awaits Balart while Silva (12-8) appears to be coming towards the end after four losses in his last seven fights.

Best of the rest

Leandro Issa (17-9) and Artem Belakh (10-2) went to war. The Brazilian appeared to have locked on an armbar in the second round but the Russian somehow survived despite having his arm hyper extended.

Belakh had already rocked Issa with punches in the opening round and both men were covered in blood although it appeared to be coming from the face of the Brazilian. The damage done was probably the decisive facto in determining the outcome with the Russian winning by split decision.

Double header

ONE on Prime Video 3 is set for the Axiata Arena tomorrow. It ill take place on Saturday morning local time and be headlined by an all Brazilian flyweight title fight between John Lineker and Fabricio Andrade.

ONE 162, Kuala Lumpur, October 21st
Kickboxing: Zhang Peimian vs. Jonathan Di Bella (For vacant strawweight title)
Reece McLaren vs. Windson Ramos (Flyweight)
Kickboxing: Sittichai Sitsongpeenong vs. Mohammed Boutasaa (Featherweight)
Kickboxing: Islam Murtazaev def. Constantin Rusu via Decision (unanimous)
Muay Thai: Jimmy Vienot def. Niclas Larsen via Decision (unanimous)
Gustavo Balart def. Alex Silva via Decision (Split)
Eko Roni Saputra def. Yodkaikaew Fairtex via Submission (heel hook) at 2:16 of R1
Artem Belakh def. Leandro Issa via Decision (unanimous)
Muay Thai: Denis Purić def. Tagir Khalilov via Decision (unanimous)
Ruslan Emilbek Uulu def. Ben Wilhelm via Submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:58 of R1