One Championship 31 took place in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2015.
Visa issues stymied the main event Featherweight Title defense by Jadamba Narantungalag, so challenger Marat Gafurov faced Martin Nguyen and defeated him for the interim strap.
Here are the full recaps and results from the event. All photos are courtesy of David Ash of Singapore Maven.
#10 – Mario Wirawan 4-1-0 (Indonesia) vs Sunoto Peringkat 2-1-0 (Indonesia)
This is the only bout in the card with two Indonesian fighters.
This is Mario Wirawan’s debut for One Championship. He hasn’t been training too long in MMA compared to Sunoto who has been training for 14-15 years, but Mario has been gaining a lot of mileage recently with the likes of Fransino Tirta. He has made it publicly known that he aspires to be Indonesia’s number 1 MMA champion one day. He faces the pressure of fellow Indonesian fighter Sunoto who had tasted defeat at One Championship in Manila earlier this year, so Sunoto has put it out there that he intends to fight to rebound.
Experience does matter, particularly when Sunoto came into the cage with years spent honing his takedowns. He made light practice of Mario, with quick takedowns executed with ease. Mario had to be credited for relentlessness and fearlessness, although the lack of experience clearly showed up through the gaps in both his striking and grappling skills. While Mario put up a good defense throughout the fight, in the end, that was not enough to win.
When Sunoto was declared the winner, the crowd, who were clearly supporting the underdog, Mario, booed and jeered.
Winner: Sunoto Peringkat via unanimous decision
#9 – Interim Featherweight Championship
Martin Nguyen 4-0-0 (Australia) Vs. Marat Gafurov 11-0-0 (Russia)
In what could be considered “Situ-Asian Critical” in homage to his fight name, Nguyen accepted this match when reigning champion Jadamba was not able to make the fight because of visa issues. Nguyen was considered the underdog, with Gafurov being the more experienced fighter and M-1’s featherweight champion, so it would be an opportunity for Nguyen to show the audience how far he has come with his skills for the showdown of his life.
Nguyen made the bad mistake of going for a takedown and presenting Gafurov with his back. Gafurov wasted no time taking it, and submitted Nguyen with a rear naked choke.
Winner: Marat Gafurov via submission in round 1 in 41 sec.
#8 – Arnaud Lepont 11-4-0 (France) vs Vincent Latoel 15-16-2 (Netherlands)
Before the fight, the flamboyant Arnaud said that Latoel may have height advantage but “I am prepared to crush him. He thinks he is better and taller but tall guys fall harder.”
However Latoel responded, “Although my opponent Arnaud has been quite vocal about our showdown this weekend, I will only respond with my first.” And he did.
The more aggressive Latoel was quick to slow Lepont in his tracks with his powerful kicks. Lepont was obviously more comfortable fighting on the ground and had Latoel in danger of a submission in round 1 if not for the bell. So Latoel decided to end the fight quickly in round 2 with even more aggressive punches and kicks.
Winner: Vincent Latoel via referee stoppage through strikes in round 2, 15seconds
#7 – Roger Huerta 22-7-1 (US) vs Koji Ando 11-4-2 (Japan)
Koji Ando lost to Shinya Aoki in his recent fight, but he displayed his exceptional skills. So his fans are prepared to see the same display from the strategic fighter. On paper, Huerta may look more experienced but Ando’s defeat could work to his advantage as he has equal drive to get back into the W column.
This bout could be the most exciting fight of the evening. It was a display of striking skills. Huerta no doubt seemed to be the more agile fighter and was more aggressive while Ando timed his opponent and waited for the right opportunity to strike with his powerful right hooks. When he did, Huerta was visibly taken aback.
Winner: Koji Ando via Unanimous Decision
#6 – Leandro Ataides 8-1-0 (Brazil) vs Aleksei Butorin 9-0-0 (Russia)
This is another fight that pits grappling against striking skills. Ataides is a 5-time BJJ world champion while Butorin is a Muay Thai expert.
Ataides’ last fight saw him defeated by Igor Svirid in a title challenge. He is therefore definitely looking to come back with a vengeance against Butorin, who is making his debut at One Championship.
The fight was predictable, with Ataides going for a takedown and then pinning Butorin to the ground throughout most of the fight. He failed to submit Butorin in round 1 with a tight kimura; Butorin used impressive strength to defend it.
Butorin caught on to Ataides’ one-dimensional plan for takedowns and began stuffing them. He proved that his striking skills were far superior with a series of straight punches, a left hook and finished Ataides with a round house kick to the head.
Butorin: “Although I won through strikes, I believe that if you want to win as a fighter, you must be a universal fighter.”
Winner: Alexei Butorin via referee stoppage through strikes at round 2, 3 min 18 Sec
#5 – Timofey Nastyukhin 9-1-0 (Russia) vs Herbert Burns 5-0 (Brazil)
This bout is potentially a fight between a more adept grappler and one with more striking skills. Nastyukhin is known for his explosive knock-out power while Burns, who holds a BJJ black belt, has seen most of his wins via submission.
Predictably, Nastyukhin showed off a flying knee, but Burns went for the shoot and was well positioned to dominate Nastyukhin until he sunk in a rear naked choke. Nastyukhin was left with no choice but to tap out.
Winner: Herbert Burns via rear naked choke at round 1, 3 min 25 sec
#4 – Jake Butler 5-1-0 (US) vs Cristiano Kaminishi 8-2-0 (Brazil)
This bout saw most of the action on the ground between two fighters who were obviously skilled grapplers. Butler initiated most of the takedowns, even dominating Kaminishi most times, but Kaminishi displayed a lot of determination, and defended those takedowns well.
The final round though, with exhaustion setting in, both fighters obviously were playing for time with sloppy strikes until Butler decided to go for a final takedown to end the round hopefully with more points in his favour.
Winner: Jake Butler via Unanimous Decision
#3 – Muin Gafurov 7-0-0 (Tajikistan) vs Casey Suire 5-1-0 (US)
This is Muin Gafurov’s debut at ONE Championship and he’s known to be an outstanding grappler having submitted his opponents within the first round in his last 5 fights; the other two he defeated by KO. Casey comes into the cage with a vengeance as he tasted defeat against Mark Striegl earlier this year in Manila. The chip on Suire’s shoulder, as admitted by Suire himself, is his age.
Casey: “My opponent, Muin, is a young decorated grappler, aggressive, and doesn’t like to back down, so this should make for an explosive fight. I am ready to get back to my winning ways with this fight. One thing for sure, I intend to use my performance to get everyone to stop questioning my age. I will fight even harder in my bid to make a statement that age should not be a barrier to anyone’s dreams.”
However, Gafurov proved that he was as adept on his feet as he was on the ground. He displayed some fancy back kicks that caught Suire off guard, not once, but a couple of times.
Winner: Muin Gafurov via referee stoppage through strikes, round 1, 55 sec.
#2 – Angela Lee 1-0-0 (Singapore) vs Mona Samir 0-0-0 (Egypt)
This only women’s bout of the event is a Catchweight bout. Angela has just come off a spectacular win in her debut fight with ONE championship recently when she defeated Aya Saber via armbar. In this fight against pro debutante Mona Samir, she showed tenacity and was relentless with her punches, knees and elbows while pinning Samir to the ground. Although Mona went for the shoot from the start, this wushu and wrestling champion couldn’t stand a chance against Lee’s versatility and quick thinking when Lee reversed Samir and dominated her until the stoppage.
Winner: Angela Lee via Submission, Rear naked choke, round 1, 3min 41 Sec
#1 – Sotir Kichukov 13-3-0 (Bulgaria) vs Yusup Saadulaev 13-4-1 (Russia)
This fight saw a fantastic performance by Yusup Saadulaev whose grappling skills were exceptional. Kichukov struggled from the start as Saadulaev did not waste time in going for a takedown, predictably. The Russian fighter with the BJJ black belt certainly demonstrated that he was more comfortable with his ground game. Sotir was kept pinned to the ground for the entire first round. Even when Sotir initiated a takedown in round 2, he stood no chance against the technically superior Saadulaev.
Yusup:” I was expecting to submit him in the first round but couldn’t.”
Winner: Yusup Saadulaev via Submission, arm triangle choke, 1 min 46 seconds of round 2