Moraes retains ONE flyweight title, knocks out Johnson

ADRIANO Moraes of Brazil is still the ONE Championship world flyweight champion. (ONE Championship)

BRAZILIAN Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes remained the ONE Championship world flyweight champion after successfully defending his title in impressive knockout fashion against American mixed martial arts legend Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson on Thursday in Singapore.

Mr. Moraes, back in action after more than two years, showed that he is still the top man in the division by knocking out Mr. Johnson in the second round of their main card bout at the landmark “ONE on TNT I” event.

The event was the first of a four-part weekly offering until April 29 from ONE that will have the promotion’s fights shown on prime time in the United States.

The two fighters fought evenly until Mr. Moraes caught Mr. Johnson with a right jab to the jaw that sent the latter to the mat, the Brazilian saw an opening and kneed the American to the head while in a grounded position before closing things out with a barrage of punches.

The referee stopped the contest at the 2:24 mark of the second round.

The win was the first successful title defense of Mr. Moraes since reclaiming it from Filipino Geje Eustaquio in January 2019.

With the loss, meanwhile, Mr. Johnson (30-3-1), a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion, absorbed his first defeat in ONE after going 3-0 previously.

In other main card fights, ONE world muay thai flyweight champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon of Thailand beat by unanimous decision Daniel Williams of Australia in their non-title catchweight fight.

The lightweight battle between American Eddie “The Underground King” Johnson and Moldovan Iuri Lapicus, meanwhile, ended abruptly and controversially in the opening round.

Mr. Alvarez was disqualified for hitting his opponent at the back of the head.

The former UFC and Bellator champion Alvarez managed to take down Mr. Lapicus and drag the action to the canvas.

While seated near the cage and dominated by Mr. Alvarez, Moldovan Lapicus turned his face toward the fence, exposing the back of his head. Mr. Alvarez threw right hands that hit the lower part of the head of his opponent, sending Mr. Lapicus screaming out and falling back to the canvas after.

Moments later, Mr. Alvarez was handed a red card by the referee.

After the fight, the American said the hits were unintentional and were legal blows but accepted the decision nonetheless while wishing Mr. Lapicus well.

In the preliminary fights, Russian Raimond Magomedaliev beat American Tyler McGuire by unanimous decision in their MMA contest, while German Enriko Kehl won by split decision over Belarusian Chingiz Allazov in their kickboxing clash. Also a winner was MMA heavyweight Oumar Kane of Senegal over Patrick Schmid of Switzerland by first-round technical knockout.

Next for ONE Championship is “ONE on TNT II” on April 15. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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