Filipino-American mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Brandon “The Truth” Vera stopped Chinese Paul “Typhoon” Cheng in 26 seconds after the opening bell to win the inaugural heavyweight world championship in ONE: Spirit of Champions on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“Sabi ko before, itong title na ito hindi lang sa akin kundi para sa inyong lahat. Salamat sa inyong lahat. [Like I said before, this title isn’t just for me but for all of you]. Thank you very much. I can’t wait to be back. You have the heavyweight world champion,” said the 38-year old Vera after receiving the ONE heavyweight world title belt.
Vera opened the bout by dropping Cheng with a left hook followed by a high kick. Vera then unleashed a flurry of hammer fists on the helpless Cheng that prompted the referee to stop the fight.
Cheng was a last minute replacement for Chi Lewis Parry who was unable to submit the results of his medical and drug tests to the Games and Amusement Boards of the Philippines.
In the other fights, Filipino Mark “Mugen” Striegl won via rear naked choke against Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren in the third round of their bantamweight bout.
Another Filipino fighter, striking specialist, Eugene Toquero scored a third round technical knockout win over Chinese Li Wei Bin.
In the women’s bantamweight division, Russian Irina Mazepa defeated former world boxing champion Ana “Hurricane” Julaton of the Philippines via unanimous decision. Julaton attempted to bring the fight to the ground but the Russian fighter used evasive distancing to finish the fight on her feet.
In a show of grappling prowess in the strawweight division, Angela “Unstoppable” Lee of Singapore won by rear-naked choke against Lena Tkhorevska of Poland.
Bruno Pucci of Brazil gave featherweight champion Anthony Engelen a first taste of defeat by beating the latter through a rear-naked choke at two minutes and 19 seconds of round two.
Brazilian flyweight champion Alex Sila also won by submission—a knee bar —against Filipino Ruel Catalan after three minutes and 53 seconds of the first round.
Lee’s younger brother, Christian Lee, made his MMA debut by stopping Australian David Meak via technical knockout, 29 seconds after the opening of round of the featherweight fight.
Fight fans in the arena also offered a moment of silence for Chinese fighter Yang Jian Bing, 21, who passed away before fight night because of cardiopulmonary failure from dehydration while trying to cut weight. He was supposed to fight Filipino Geje Eustaquio.
“Unfortunately, one of our brothers has passed. For his families, coaches and his team, I am sorry. I hope that never happens again but that’s what we put into the sports, we give you our lives, our souls,” said the emotional Vera in the post-fight press conference.