PH bets Folayang, Kelly earn title shots after stellar ONE FC showingBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines — Relentless from the get-go, Filipino bet Eduard “Landslide” Folayang outclassed tough-chinned Felipe Enomoto of Japan in the penultimate fight of the ONE Fighting Championship 5: Pride of the Nation at the packed Smart Araneta Coliseum late Friday night.
Folayang, the 2011 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in Wushu, rocked Enomoto with a right that he followed up with a flurry before the Japanese got saved by the bell.
“I really wanted to finish the fight but time wasn’t enough for me to end the fight,” the 24-year-old Folayang of Team Lakay said before thanking a massive crowd, which cheered every strike he landed and flinched for every blow he took.
“I’m so overwhelmed by your presence,” expressed Folayang, whose impressive display earned him a shot at the vacant lightweight title on October 6 in the Singapore-based MMA.
Folayang continued to attack in the final round as both fighters engaged in a stand-up all throughout.
Enomoto, the CFC Euro Champion, landed solid outside leg kicks but Folayang, the aggressor, inflicted more damage in different areas.
Joining Folayang in ONE FC’s sixth installment dubbed “Rise of Kings” to be held back in Singapore is countryman Eric “the Natural” Kelly, who will contend for the featherweight belt versus compatriot Honorio Banario after scoring a stellar stoppage over MMA icon Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver due to strikes. Banario, meanwhile, stopped Andrew Benibe, also a Filipino, in 3:47 of Round 3 in the night’s first contest.
“He [Kelly] is fast and strong,” acknowledged the 37-year-old Pulver, the inaugural UFC lightweight champion. “He might be the Manny Pacquiao of MMA.”
Kelly and Pulver exchanged blows in the first two rounds before the Filipino found an opening and landed a solid punch to the face that knocked down the American before a series of strikes prompted the referee to stop the match at the 1:46 mark of the second round.
“I thought I was going to knock him out in the first round but I couldn’t because he hits hard. I trained hard for this fight and I know I wouldn’t get knocked out,” said Kelly.
It was a great showing for the PH fighters despite suffering a casualty after Kevin “the Silencer” Belingon, quick but one-dimensional, yielded to South Korean Soo Chul Kim via unanimous decision in their bantamweight fight.
Kim exploited Belingon’s poor takedown defense as he put him to the ground several times with ease.
Belingon rendered helpless on his back and even failed to capitalize on a half mount.
Meanwhile, the highly-anticipated fourth encounter between Andrei Arlovski of Belarus and USA’s Tim Sylvia ended in a no-contest.
Arlovski landed a vicious right that knocked down Sylvia on his knees. Going for the finish, Arlovski though, struck the out-of-shape Sylvia with devastating kicks to head, an illegal MMA blow, while the American was down. The referee wisely called for a timestop and gave Arlovski a yellow card before the fight was ruled a no-contest due to illegal blows to the head.
Both former UFC heavyweight champions agree to fight again for the fifth time.
In the quickest fight of the night, crowd-favorite “The New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni knocked out Brazil’s Rodrigo Ribeiro with just a minute in the first round.
Three members of the legendary Gracie family also stepped into the ring but only two got out as victors.
Gregor Gracie displayed his fearsome ground techniques in submitting Nicholas Mann on an armbar with 3:38 in Round 1. Heavyweight Rolles Gracie also submitted his opponent Tony Bonello via rear-naked choke at the 3:38 mark of the third round.
Igor Gracie meanwhile, met his match in South Korea’s Jung Hwan Cha, who surprisingly outworked the Brazilian on the ground as both fought a technical fight. Cha gained control in the second round before pummeling the worn-out Gracie in Round 3 as the fight was stopped at the 1:03 mark.
In the main event, Brazil’s Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes won in his ONE FC debut after defeating the blue-haired Gustavo Falciroli via unanimous decision in their bantamweight match.
Meanwhile, Thai Shannon Wiratchai connected on a crushing right hook that sent Mitch Chilson down as he was lunging before landing a kick before the referee abruptly stopped the fight, 2:03 mark of the second round.
“We had a great fight tonight. Looking forward to coming back,” said ONE FC CEO Victor Cui.