If you missed the ONE: Warrior Series 10, don’t worry, we have you covered. Here are the seven main takeaways from the card.
Unleash the Wrestlers
The results might have varied but there was one unifying theme around the first four matches of the night – wrestling. Rana Rudra Pratap Singh, Shammah Chandran, Irfan Ahmad, and Manthan Rane took it to the ground as early and as often as they could.
This style is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea and many would class the fights that ended in a UD as boring. Admittedly, it’s not the prettiest to look at, but it’s effective.
All the above-mentioned fighters are young, and there’s plenty of time to add flash to their respective games as they display their mastery of the fundamentals.
They just need to get it fast if they want to get that contract.
Fight of the Night – Grayson/Alchin
Most of the fights on this card either ended too fast or was a foregone conclusion by the time the final bell rang. This fight was the only exception.
Both men put their grappling chops on display, handily winning a round each as they entered the third. The final moments of the fight was a back-and-forth on the ground as they traded submissions.
Unfortunately for Alchin, he couldn’t maintain his D’arce choke while Grayson took full advantage of his armbar.
Grayson will probably match against the Middleweight winner of ONE Warrior Series 9 – Ganbayar Tumurkhuyag – for a contract eliminator.
But Alchin deserves some consideration as well. It takes a lot of skill to go round for round on the mat with a 10-time National Jiu-jitsu Champion.
The main roster of the Middleweight division will be much richer with both of them in it.
Daniel Van Heerden Deserves a Contract
One of the many pleasant surprises from ONE Warrior Series 10 was the heavyweight Daniel Van Heerden. His energy and activity is a definite rarity in the bigger divisions anywhere in the world.
The way Van Heerden moved on the ground is exactly what I meant when adding flash to a ground game. Always advancing, always looking for the dominant position, and never letting his opponent even think of a counter.
I can argue that his skill and cardio are already better than some of the heavyweights on the main roster. If he continues to perform in the same way, he would get a title shot as soon as 2021.
Sport-Crossovers are Hard
ONE Warrior Series veteran Michael Walker seemed to bite off more than he can chew after agreeing to a kickboxing match with Kanta Motoyama.
Walker attempted to throw off the 18-year-old with a variety of kicks that are bread and butter in MMA but are unorthodox in a kickboxing setting.
Motoyama used his high boxing IQ, however, as well as Walker’s inexperience, to show just how far the gap was between them when it came to this particular ruleset.
The same is true with Manthan Rane and Joey Baylon, who was a champion kickboxer making his first foray into MMA. Rane used Baylon’s inexperience on the ground and never let him get into any kind of rhythm.
Both of these defeats were one-sided affairs that reinforces an often-ignored truth. There is a reason why these sports are separate (no matter how similar they look) and anyone looking to cross those boundaries shouldn’t do so lightly.
This just puts Stamp Fairtex’s achievements and what she is trying to do in perspective and greater appreciation.
Bet on the Underdogs
Alan Philpott and Kieran Joblin were both heavy favorites going into their fights. Philpott was expected to get a contract at the end of the night while Joblin was considered better in every aspect than his opponent.
Both sentiments were emphatically proven wrong on ONE Warrior Series 10. One through astonishingly overlooked skill, while the other a miraculous stroke of luck.
I was wary of the confidence going into the Philpott fight, simply because of the unknown quality of the Egyptian. So I wasn’t as surprised as others when Faress turned into a ninja for a quick win.
The greater shock – that nobody saw coming – was Byung Hee Lim knocking out Kieran Joblin.
I openly questioned the reasoning behind this match in our ONE Warrior Series 10 preview. That sentiment remains. A Hail Mary doesn’t turn a lopsided match into a stroke of genius.
I am, however, thoroughly proud of Lim himself. It takes a real set to step in the ring with someone with Joblin’s record. You can also tell how much the win meant to him by the way he was near tears after getting his hand raised.
Hopefully, he gets back to work with a fire in his gut to do even better and prove this win wasn’t just a lucky punch.
Now that we’ve had our fun, let’s look at a sobering black stain on ONE Warrior Series 10 that shouldn’t be ignored. Being a referee is a difficult job. Every time you make a decision precisely half of the crowd will hate you.
When it comes to combat sports though, the role of the third man isn’t just to keep things fair. They are there to ensure a fighter’s safety; to recognize that enough is enough and save the fighters from themselves.
With that said, I found some of the refereeing in this card to be thoroughly disgusting failures.
Not Until They’re Twitching
During the first fight, Radeem Rahman locked a guillotine choke on Seung Hyun Cho right in the middle of the ring. Cho was out fairly quickly, but the ref didn’t intervene.
The Korean’s entire body was convulsing as his brain was starving for blood from the hold. Watch the fight again. Cho’s body goes limp at 3:53 and starts twitching at 3:50. The referee who was standing right above them only breaks it at 3:45.
It would have been bad enough to say that late stoppages were where all this ended, but it gets much worse.
Not Until They’re Out Cold
There comes a time in every fight when people realize that they’re not looking at a fight anymore. It’s just a guy getting beat up for fifteen minutes. This is the story of the Min Hyuk Lee/Ryoji Kudo fight.
This fight was fifteen minutes of Kudo smashing Lee in the face. There was a moment in the first round when we thought the fight would end. But the Korean recovered and powered through.
One thing everyone will agree on is that Lee has a solid chin and the heart of a champion. But he was too stubborn and tough for his own good.
This is the point where a referee should recognize that a fighter isn’t giving as good as he’s getting and is doing little more than getting hit in the face. For reference, here is Min Hyuk Lee before the fight:
This is Min Hyuk Lee near the end of the third round:
Just because a fighter is on his feet, doesn’t mean a referee can’t stop the fight. There wasn’t a moment in this fight when Lee was about to steal it from Kudo, and much of the damage he absorbed was largely unnecessary.
The fact that Lee’s face resembled a mushroom more than a part of a human head, should have been a clue that he’s probably had enough.
Gianni Subba commented that we will be seeing Min Hyuk Lee again, but because of his injuries that won’t be any time soon. Nor will we be seeing him much longer in this career if referees keep letting him absorb that much damage.
Not Until Someone Else Stops It
Mehdi Bagheri versus Koji Shikuwa was a great fight through the first round. Halfway through the second Shikuwa gave all he could despite a suspected injured hamstring.
However, it all went wrong after Bagheri advanced to full mount and rained ground and pound on him. Surely the end was near. Except, it never came.
Blow after blow landed on Shikuwa’s head and the referee just looked at him. He was just standing there. Bagheri even starts looking at the referee who is resolutely refusing to do his job.
The onslaught begins at 1:18 of the second round. After successfully trapping an arm, Bagheri goes to town. If you notice, unlike the hapless fool in the ring with them, that Shikuwa isn’t fighting back. He simply has his arms stretched out waiting for Bagheri to gas.
I’m sorry, but when has flailing your arms until your opponent tires out classify as intelligently defending yourself?
The only reason Shikuwa isn’t picking his nose up from the floor is that Bagheri either got too tired to hit him or didn’t want to hurt him more than he already has. That is a fighter literally stopping himself from fighting because the referee is an idiot.
It’s not as if these referees don’t know what this kind of punishment does because this exact situation happened earlier in the night. In the Van Heerden/Mardani fight, the South African gained top position and landed five solid shots on the Iranian’s face before the referee stepped in.
The referee jumped in as fast as he could in that fight, why in the world didn’t they in this one?
What makes this situation even worse is that ONE has the BALLS to frame this as Japanese warrior spirit in their Top 5 highlights.
Don’t cover up an official’s incompetence with a fighter’s virtue. People in the past have died because of things like this. This was inexcusable garbage and needs to be rectified immediately.
Steve Dawson’s commentary put it all perfectly as the fight ended.
“Because you’re not gonna get Shikuwa saying ‘Yeah, I’m done.’ it’s gonna have to be someone else who calls it.”Steve Dawson
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