ONE FC 23 recap and photos: Fernandes proves title dominance, Vera has emotional homecoming

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ONE FC 23 took place in Manila, Philippines on December 5, 2014. Bibiano Fernandes firmly kept ahold of his Bantamweight title, and Brandon Vera made his successful debut.


Bibiano Fernandes wasn’t about to let upstart Kim Dae-Hwan taste the title just yet. While Kim knew not to engage early, it was all for naught as Fernandes went right in and took him down. Kim earned a yellow card for elbows to the spine in a possible too quick stop by referee Yuji Shimada. A restart on the ground saw Kim with a stunning reversal but Fernandes went right for the submissions. Kim amazingly worked out of them back to standing where he threw his flying knee. Fernades predictably went for the single leg. They both traded leather and Kim actually landed two spinning back kicks. Kim tried to get it against the fence but Fernandes came out with a nice big double leg.

Kim looked sharp in the opening of the first round and confident with his striking and takedown defence. But Fernades, much the wiser, caught a hole in Kim’s game and went for the back take standing, jumped on Kim, and eventually got the tap to the RNC.


Brandon Vera makes his first fight at home a successful one

Brandon Vera rocked Igor Subora almost right off the bat, but Subora still kept his hands up and kept coming in with strikes. Vera’s kicks damaged Subora’s legs in the process. Halfway through, Subora finally snuck a right in that landed, and as Vera looked to reinitialize his distance, Subora landed again. Vera came back with a straight left that floored Subora and followed it up with three devastating soccer kicks in a row.

The crowd was vocally ecstatic about Vera’s finish and applauded his post-win speech about “coming home”.

Eduard Folayang and Timofey Nastyukhin thew heavy leather with Nastyukhin rocking Folayang several times while Folayang threw his amazing wushu kicks. But as violently as it began, it ended. Nastyukhin came in with a flying switch knee that rolled Folayang’s eyes back and crumpled him to the canvas. Nastyukhin followed him down and threw a hammer fist that bounced Folayang back into consciousness and then a soccer kick that stiffened the Filipino standout cold.

James McSweeney played the exact game a striker should against Roger Gracie, a BJJ royal family black belt, feinting and kicking. When McSweeney did come inside, Gracie surprised everyone by taking the clinch and landing big knees, but no takedown attempts. McSweeney landed a head kick and a knee that hurt Gracie at the end of the first round.

McSweeney opened the second round with a nice overhand hook, and staved off a takedown to keep the first half of the round on his side. Gracie landed a nice jab that cut McSweeney’s eye and he found himself having to backpedal as Gracie started to go on the offence. It looked to have sent him back with an ankle injury as well.

In the final round, Gracie started targeting the eye and it opened again, so McSweeney shot out some body kicks that made Gracie wince. McSweeney threw a shin kick that seemed to hurt himself further, and Gracie smelled blood. He teeped to the ribs which started the beginning of the end, jumped on top and got the referee stoppage.


Kevin Belingon showcases Pinoy pride

Kevin Belingon and Koetsu Okazaki squared off in a very conservative couple of minutes, then Belingon found his timing and unleashed his kicks. Okazaki tried to come in with combinations but Belingon was super smart to it and threw back, ended with a huge takedown to mount. Okazaki was forced on the defensive and had a hard time even trying for a leglock.

Belingon’s kicks again set the stage in the second round. Okazaki looked to come inside with big punches but Belingon loaded up on his counters, eschewing gasps of excitement from the crowd. Belingon set Okazaki down on the canvas twice, once with a straight and again with a spinning back kick.

Amazingly, it went to a third round. Belingon blasted Okazaki’s left leg until he went down and then he assaulted. Okazaki recovered by trying for a takedown and getting the back, but Belingon incredibly stood up and got the reversal to land in half guard where he smattered Okazaki’s face and body with punches and elbows, a great finish on top of an effort that deservedly won him the unanimous decision.

Belingon’s show was well-timed for the Philippines crowd, as his teammate Honorio Banario’s hopes for a rebound were quickly dashed. A beautiful opening scramble of takedown tradeoffs put Herbert Burms in position for a slick back take where he immediately looked for the choke. Banario defended gamely throughout a full three minutes, but Burns had the magic and got him to tap.

Jake Butler, however, was to get his deserved rebound, earning a decision over Sylvain Potard by smartly going back to his wrestling basics. In the opening frame, Potard calmly dealt with a takedown and fended off Butler’s knees as he cagewalked back up. Butler worked his way back inside to pressure Potard against the cage for the remainder of the round.

In the second, Butler turned up the volume. He nailed the single leg and while Potard defended well, Butler worked to mount and threw down the punches. Potard continued to transition but Butler kept the pressure on him and laid on the ground and pound thick. Potard was able to walk up with just one minute left.

The third round Butler looked for takedowns, and while Potard defended them, Butler was the one controlling the action against the cage which sealed him the decision.


Prelims action

Rene Catalan and Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke came out with impressively fast striking, as predicted. Catalan scored with a beautiful single leg, which “Rong” was eventually able to work out of and back to standing. The two traded against the cage, and Rong was able to land a knee to the ribs that buckled Catalan in pain to the canvas for the first round stoppage.

Walaa Abas showed she was not intimidated by Champion boxer Ana Julaton’s pedigree as shed opened the match nicely with punches and looked for a guillotine standing, but Julaton was in no danger. Julaton reversed a takedown with her own big throw and she controlled the rest of the round with striking and her own standing guillotine attempt at the bell.

Julaton decided to go back to her bread and butter boxing in the second, and Abas responded by back pedalling. Abas stayed in the game with some combinations, but once she was in Julaton’s range, Julaton landed nice jabs and hooks. Abas ended the round with a surprising beautiful combination that bloodied Julaton’s nose.

Both women came out strong in the third with a striking exchange and clinch work. Julaton started throwing more at the end of the round and countered Abas’ back pedaling by trying for a clinch. In the final minute, they turned it on, with Julaton clinching and getting knees and a back take at the end, showing off her newly improved wrestling skills.

Julaton’s fellow Filipina fighter Jujeath Nagaowa also thrilled the crowd with her card-opening performance. Tharoth Sam started the first round in the clinch with perfect knees against the smaller woman, but Nagaowa waited it out to work the fight to the ground where she controlled most of the round.

In the second, Nagaowa opened up with her fists, and Sam went right back in for the clinch work. Nagaowa quickly took it down again, and worked to mount where she finished Sam off with brutal elbows.

Photos by Raul Gasmeña Landingin, cage side access unavailable for this heavily credentialled event.

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December 5, 2014
MOA Arena
Manila, Philippines

Bibiano Fernandes defeats Dae Hwan Kim by Submission, rd 2, 1:16
Brandon Vera defeats Igor Subora by TKO, rd 1
Timofey Nastyukhin defeats Eduard Folayang by KO, rd 1
Roger Gracie defeats James McSweeney by TKO, rd 3, 3:15
Kevin Belingon defeats Koetsu Okazaki by UD
Herbert Burns defeats Honorio Banario by Submission, RNC, rd 1
Jake Butler defeats Sylvain Potard by UD
Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke defeats Rene Catalan by TKO, rd 1
Ana Julaton defeats Walaa Abas by Unanimous Decision
Jujeath Nagaowa defeats Tharoth Sam by TKO, rd 2, 3:24