ONE on TNT 1: A historic moment, plus a crying former champion

Adriano Moraes
Credit: ONE Championship

ONE Championship has a lot riding on these next four Wednesdays in April. You can read our recent article on why that is, but this space is all about if ONE on TNT 1 led off this US prime time invasion in the way the promotion needed.  

‘Reug Reug’ pulled out on Schmid’s ONE Championship debut

Another “Reug Reug” fight, and another first-round jungle drubbing knockout for the native of Senegal. The man known as Oumar Kane looked far from a polished product against the debuting Patrick Schmid. However, when you are that big, that strong, and that athletic, there is a lot you can get away with this early in a career.

It will be interesting what ONE Championship does next with their biggest import from the African continent. They are trying to angle towards an eventual bout with heavyweight champion Brandon Vera sooner than later. They need to pump the breaks on pushing this boulder of a man too high too fast. Let him develop, let him continue to be fun, and let him be the attraction he is. They need to keep feeding him confidence and experience building foes.

An absolute kickboxing barnburner at featherweight

Enriko Kehl versus Chingiz Allazov was an absolute banger and would have been a useful addition on the main card to showcase what the ONE Super Series featherweight division is all about. Over three straight rounds, it was action, action, action. Each round seemingly had a key second-half momentum swing, with Allazov finishing strong in the first, and the German taking the back end of the second and third rounds. “The Hurricane” scored the split-decision victory and sweet vengeance for himself and his brother. After both were handed L’s from “Chinga” a few years back.

Magomedaliev knees his way to title-contention

Raimond Magomedaliev served up knees in this fight like Tyler McGuire put in an order for them over a food delivery app. The knees were constant, and thumping blasts to the Americans solar plexus over three rounds. Especially when the active US Air Force member tried to take the fight to the ground and ended up stuck in Magomedaliev’s clinch. It seems like the Russian sealed up some of the holes he showed in his wrestling during his 2018 debut loss to former Legacy Fighting Alliance welterweight champion James Nakashima. He’s now won three straight, with this unanimous decision coming against a former title contender in McGuire. A clash with division champion Kiamrian Abbasov makes a lot of sense for both at some point in the next few months.

ONE on TNT 1 red Cards, stretchers and crying

Oof. What a disastrous way to start off the main card of this event. Eddie Alvarez and Iuri Lapicus hit the mat early in the first. The Moldovian ended up with his legs grapevined, and in a weird spot trying to protect his face from being drubbed by “The Underground King.” The former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champ then somehow unknowingly proceeded to hit the 25-year-old with four to five clean shots to his neck, near the base of his skull.

The fight then gets stopped and the show descends into a confusing mix that included a rare red card, a disqualification, and no-contest, bad audio signals to Alvarez’s headset, Lapicus supposedly carted off on a stretcher, and Alvarez crying during his post-fight interview trying to explain it all. What a mess.

The king is dead

Well, if you didn’t know Adriano Moraes before, now you do. Asian MMA is distinctly different than the sport in North America because of the inclusion of knees and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent. Demetrious Johnson was a flyweight demigod under the rules many American fans are used to. The co-main event showed US fans that you better protect your face when trying to get back to your feet in Asia because you’re liable to get kneed into unconsciousness. That is exactly what happened to the legendary “Mighty Mouse” against defending flyweight champion Moraes.

The biggest question going into this fight was if “Mikinho” was the face of ONE Championship’s flyweight division because he was a big Brazilian fish in a small pond. That does not seem to be the narrative anymore. You may chalk up his second-round knockout to the unique rules of the region all you want, but Moraes gave the greatest flyweight of all time just his fourth loss in 35 fights, by landing a thudding right hand, and a knee that will be on his and ONE Championship’s highlight reel forever.

The T in ‘Mini T’ stands for tough as f…

In the night main event, one of the promotion’s most entertaining strikers, and current flyweight Muay Thai champ, Rodtang Jitmuangnon did his usual Rodtang thing. Which is bringing violent action. However, the standout was the utter toughness of Australian foe Danial Williams. Despite being on the brink of defeat in the second round, “Mini T” showed he is tougher than a $2 steak and hung in there. He even made it a competitive affair late in the third frame. However, in the end, “The Iron Man” won his eighth straight fight in the promotion by unanimous decision and ended the night with blood and fan-friendly fisticuffs.

Not great but far from bad

Overall, ONE on TNT 1 was a solid outing for the promotion as they try to make serious headway with American fans over the next four weeks. Alvarez versus Lapicus was a grey cloud over the event and started the main card off in nightmarish fashion, but the card bounced back with history being made by Moraes and an entertaining finale. I am ready for part two next week.

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