Gianni Subba trying to block a kick from Eugene Toquero (left) at ONE FC: Rise of Heroes.
MANILA: Gianni Subba’s three-fight unbeaten run came to an end at the Mall of Asia Arena here.
Despite going the whole three rounds in his ONE FC: Rise of Heroes fight against local boy Eugene Toquero, the 21-year-old Malaysian was stunned by the curveball thrown by the Filipino, who shed his favoured muay thai style of fighting for repeated takedowns to bag victory by unanimous decision in the flyweight bout.
Toquero was early aggressor, landing a hard kick to Gianni’s groin in the first round. Standing at 172.2cm, Gianni was unable to use his height and reach advantage to great effect against the 165.1cm Toquero.
Gianni’s best moment in the fight came in the second round when he managed to take the Filipino down. But that didn’t last long as Toquero overpowered Gianni to reverse the position before proceeding to land a flurry of punches and elbows.
A tired Gianni looked to have left it too late in the third round as he went in search of a takedown.
“It was tough. I don’t think the incident (kick to the groin) had any effect on me. It was more due to my own mistakes. I guess I over-estimated my wrestling abilities and under-estimated his groundwork skills. I didn’t expect him to come at me with takedowns ... but you live and you learn,” said a disconsolate Gianni after his bout.
The 33-year-old Toquero was delighted with the victory, claiming it was his game plan all along to take the fight the whole way.
“The result was okay. My game plan from the start was to go the full three rounds. I wanted to use my elbows but my coach said no. He said just relax and take it to three,” said Toquero.
“I knew he had a higher level of ground work but I used that incident (kick to the groin) to give myself a breather and I was able to regroup. If there’s ever a rematch, I’d know what I have to do to beat him again.”
Meanwhile, in the headlining fight card, Brazil's Bibiano Fernandes retained his bantamweight world championship title against Japan's Masakatsu Ueda.
The 34-year-old from the Amazonas was rarely troubled as he picked up a comfortable victory, his fourth straight win in ONE FC via unanimous decision at the end of Round 5.
In the co-main event, Filipino Eduard Folayang gave the close capacity crowd what they came to see with a victory via unanimous decision over Japan's Kotetsu Boku in the lightweight division.
Rise of Heroes will be memorable for the debutants as Gianni's Phuket Top Team team-mate Rob “Ruthless” Lisita took it up a notch in the first-ever ONE FC featherweight bout.
The 31-year-old Australian had vowed to avenge his defeat to Japan's Yusuke Kawanago two years ago and made good on that promise by scoring a KO via punches in the first round with 28 seconds to go in what was the fastest match of the night.
In another bout, former women’s WBO super bantamweight and IBA super bantamweight world champion Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton had a stellar ONE FC debut in front of her home crowd by beating Egyptian kickboxing champion Aya-Saeid Saber.
Filipino-American Julaton found herself in trouble at times but, with a near-capacity crowd of 20,000 at the arena cheering her on, she scored her maiden win via TKO (punches) in the closing three minutes of the third round.
It was indeed a great night for the Filipinos as Juteath “Bad Girl” Nagaowa also enjoyed a perfect ONE FC debut by defeating India’s Jeet Toshi by TKO (punches) in the atomweight division with 67 seconds left in round two.
Juteath, 26, had Jeet, a seven-time kickboxing champion, on her back for most of the match after scoring an unexpected takedown in the first round.