SINGAPORE – Chatri Sityodtong had promised American viewers something “unique” in One Championship’s One on TNT 1 event on Thursday (April 8) morning at the Indoor Stadium, the organisation’s big foray into the North American market.
And the founder and chief executive officer of One Championship was right.
The event, which aired in the United States on primetime on Wednesday night, produced shock moments involving two of One’s most well-known names, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.
Johnson, whose 13-win streak from 2012 to 2017 is still a record in the UFC, was finished for the first time in his career when he lost via knockout in the second round of his title bout with One flyweight (up to 61kg) world champion Adriano Moraes.
The 34-year-old American had only lost three times in 34 fights prior, all by decision.
Johnson remained magnanimous in defeat, and gamely congratulated his rival after he got back on his feet. He said later: “It happens. If you’re in this game long enough, it’s bound to happen.”
Brazilian Moraes, 31, called his win over the highly-decorated rival a “dream come true”.
“I grew up watching DJ fighting,” said the Brazilian. “He’s a legend. I knew exactly what his game is (and) my team and I (came up with) a perfect strategy to fight against him.”
Alvarez, meanwhile, was disqualified for the first time in his career, in his lightweight (up to 77kg) bout with Moldovan fighter Iuri Lapicus.
The 37-year-old, who suffered his eighth loss in 39 fights, was shown the red card after the referee had determined he had intentionally struck Lapicus on the back of the head. Lapicus, 25, was stretchered out of the cage which left Alvarez devastated.
While the American was adamant he had thrown punches to his opponent’s ears which did not warrant a disqualification, he said the health and well-being of Lapicus was the main thing on his mind.
“I keep thinking about Iuri on the stretcher, because I’ve been on that side before and it’s kind of messing me up,” he said.
“I just want to know that Iuri is fine, then we can all go home.”
American viewers were also treated to an absorbing muay thai fight between one of One’s most exciting practitioners, Thai starlet Rodtang Jitmuangnon, and Australian fighter Danial Williams. Rodtang, 23, won via unanimous decision after their three-round battle.
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