Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fernandes floors Finn

International Mixed Martial Arts came to Myanmar on July 18, as Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium hosted Bibiano Fernandes’ successful defence of his One Championship World Bantamweight division title with a clear third-round knockout against Finland’s Toni Tauru.

Fernandes stuns Tauru with the power of his right fist. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar TimesFernandes stuns Tauru with the power of his right fist. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar Times

Fight promoters One Championship’s spokesperson Loren Mack confirmed the organisation had considered the event a success and would look to return to Myanmar in the near future.

“Fernandes is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and that’s a statement that we are looking to return to Myanmar for decades to come,” said Mack after the fight.

Finns aren’t known for their small talk and Toni Tauru’s pre-fight video offered some big-talk from the 5 foot 10 inch fighter who looked as though he towered over his 5ft 7in Brazilian world champion opponent.

The Finn, established as a grappler with a reputation, had won six of his last seven fights by submission using the “rear naked choke hold”, and with Bibiano Fernandes also having won his last fight using the same method Tauru said he expected a submission to win the fight and “the belt will go to Finland”.

Tauru also suggested he was more than just a wrestler and would prove himself as a strong striker on the night.

For his part Fernandes said that Tauru, on a 10-fight winning streak had never previously met a fighter like him and so it proved.

After two rounds of high-quality grappling, although Fernandes was clearly the dominant of the two, the wrestling skills of his longer-limbed opponent meant the Brazilian was unable to find a way to finish the Finn on the floor.


Read more at our full, fight-by-fight recap, and check out more photo highlights from all the matches IN PICTURES: ONE Championship takes Myanmar by storm.


Going into the third round, Tauru may have believed he just needed to find and take one opportunity and he may be able to pull off a major upset. However Fernandes – known as the Flash, who had until now looked to use his speed to get inside of his opponent’s reach and take the battle to the floor – now accepted the challenge for a stand-up fight.

Fernandes had promised “if he makes one mistake, I will take him”, and when Tauru left his head hanging low, Fernandes delivered a powerful right upper-cut followed by a second right that floored the Finn and saw the referee call a halt to the bout.

After the fight Fernandes thanked the crowd and declared his hope to return to fight again in Myanmar.

“I didn’t have the power but I have a great striking coach and he told me to wait for him [Tauru] to make a mistake ... not to be worried but to take my time and wait until he closes in before delivering my right hand.”

The fight stood as the main event for the evening’s card that included a further nine MMA fights plus a lethwei bout held within the main cage.

The majority of the other bouts formed two tournaments held to name national champions of MMA at lightweight and featherweight divisions.

In the lightweight category Thway Thit Aung demonstrated his heavy hands as he finished two fights in a combined time of just over three minutes to claim the trophy.

In the featherweight category, Tha Pyay Nyo – holder of a Golden Belt that he won in a recent tournament – added a further accolade to his collection.

The decision to create such a line-up represents One Championship’s long-term outlook for the sport, said Mack.

“Now these fighters must go back to the table and learn their ground game,” said Mack, adding that his organisation hoped to be able to provide coaches that would help these fighters develop from “high-level strikers” to a finished MMA package.

“They have the foundations,” added Mack.


Read more at our full, fight-by-fight recap, and check out more photo highlights from all the matches IN PICTURES: ONE Championship takes Myanmar by storm.

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