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The List: 5 highlights from 'ONE 164: Pacio vs. Brooks'

From a new world champion to a number of sensational finishes, we recap Saturday's most memorable moments.
jarred-brooks

This past Saturday, ONE Championship capped off its 2022 calendar of events with a show-stopping night of martial arts in Manila with "ONE 164: Pacio vs. Brooks."

Six of the 1- bouts on the card finished before the final bell could sound, and the world title main event between Joshua Pacio (20-4) and Jarred Brooks (20-2) featured 25 minutes of nonstop action.

Here are five of the most exciting highlights from ONE's big return to the Philippines.

1. 'The Monkey God' era begins

Brooks put Pacio on notice with three straight dominant victories over ranked contenders in the strawweight MMA division. And on Saturday, "The Monkey God" finished the job by taking 26 pounds of gold from the Filipino star.

The tempo was quickly set by the American with early takedowns and top control. Although Pacio defended well to avoid major damage from the bottom, Brooks was still able to connect with ground-and-pound from within his guard.

"The Monkey God" found it more challenging to land a takedown in the second round and was forced to exchange with the Team Lakay striker on the feet. In between the second and third frames, Brooks admitted to his corner that it was tough not to play into "The Passion's" game.

However, the 29-year-old also showed his skill set is far more than just wrestling.

Given Pacio's strong takedown defense, Brooks relied on his stand-up in the championship rounds. His cardio was on point, and his output kept the defending king off-balance. It was much of the same in the fifth round until Brooks secured a world title-clinching takedown with less than two minutes remaining.

The complete performance improved the American to 20-2 in his MMA career and made him a world champion for the first time. Brooks collapsed to the canvas as emotions washed over him after receiving the belt from ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.

The strawweight division is now officially owned by "The Monkey God," who is ready to defend against all comers.

2. Aliakbari backs up trashtalk, Vera retires

The heated rivalry between Iranian wrestling machine Amir Aliakbari (12-3) and former ONE heavyweight world champion Brandon Vera (16-10) finally came to a head inside the circle at ONE 164. The result was a convincing victory for one man, and the final MMA bout of another competitor's storied career.

The two hulking athletes played around on their feet for the majority of the first round. But when Aliakbari scored a late takedown, it was the beginning of the end for "The Truth."

The AAA Team star landed several hard elbows from Vera's guard, forcing him to turn over into the turtle position. Referee Herb Dean gave the Filipino-American a few moments to recover, but the left hands from Aliakbari never stopped raining down.

The first-round finish put the Iranian right back into the thick of the heavyweight division with another commanding victory.

Meanwhile, Vera gave an emotional farewell speech to the delight of the fans inside the Mall of Asia Arena and left his gloves in the center of the ONE circle to symbolize the end of an incredible run.

3. Hu Yong defies 'gravity' with highlight-reel KO

"Wolf Warrior" Hu Yong (10-4) picked up the biggest win of his young career by putting away former ONE flyweight world champion Geje "Gravity" Eustaquio (14-9) with a first-round knockout.

The finish would not come easy, as "Gravity" tested Hu's grappling early. However, the Chinese athlete was able to get off his back and return to his feet, where his power overwhelmed Eustaquio.

With just seconds left in the opening frame, "Wolf Warrior" flashed a left hand to elicit a reaction from his opponent and then came right down the middle with a powerful right hand that smashed into Eustaquio's jaw.

No follow-up shots were needed, and referee Mohamad Sulaiman waved off the match.

The sensational knockout sent a message to the entire flyweight MMA division that Hu is looking to be a factor in 2023.

4. Sangiao stays perfect with first-round submission

Jhanlo Sangiao (5-0) is widely considered a future star of Team Lakay. The 20-year-old prodigy backed up that high praise with a stellar submission win over Anacleto Lauron (1-1) in the opening round of their catchweight MMA contest.

Lauron came out charging against his Filipino compatriot, but that would not prove wise. Sangiao was able to grab hold of his foe and take him to the canvas. Once there, "The Machine" truly took control.

No matter which way Lauron turned, Sangiao stuck to him like glue. As "Tenacity" attempted to escape from the bottom, the Team Lakay athlete floated to his back and began firing off heavy ground-and-pound.

Ultimately, that opened up a window to slip in a rear-naked choke, and Lauron was forced to tap.

The impressive showing from Sangiao continued to validate the hype surrounding him, kept his mixed martial arts record spotless at 5-0, and showed that Team Lakay is complementing its famed striking with high-level grappling.

5. Meng Bo gets back on track with 24-second KO

Meng Bo (20-6) returned to the win column in classic fashion, as her explosive power produced a lightning-fast knockout of Jenelyn Olsim (6-4).

Olsim began the contest aggressively and took the center of the ONE circle, but the Chinese athlete's slick defense led to the Filipino's demise. As Olsim attempted to fire off a right hand, Meng slipped the punch, forcing her opponent back near the circle wall.

And as "The Graceful" took a step forward, Meng unloaded a crushing overhand right that connected flush. Olsim fell to the canvas, where the Chinese athlete followed with accurate elbows to earn the knockout finish after just 24 seconds.

The Tiger Wang Gym star picked up her eighth career win by knockout and made sure the world did not forget she owns plenty of heat in her fists.

This story first published at ONEFC.com.