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Japan’s Naito reclaims ONE strawweight title

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Yoshitaka Naito
Japanese Yoshitaka Naito tries to go for the finish against Brazilian Alex Silva in their ONE Championship world strawweight title clash on Saturday in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mr. Naito reclaimed the belt with a narrow slit decision victory. -- ONE CHAMPIONSHIP

SINGAPORE — Japanese Yoshitaka Naito is once again ONE Championship world strawweight champion after fashioning out a split-decision victory over erstwhile holder Alex Silva of Brazil in their title fight even as Filipino fighters were shown the exit early at “ONE: Grit and Glory” in Indonesia on Saturday night.

Surrendered the strawweight belt in December 2017, Mr. Naito tried hard to render it a temporary handover and was accordingly rewarded with the narrow victory over Mr. Silva in a match that was nip-and-tuck right from the get-go.

The two champion fighters engaged in a technical grappling display to open things in the headlining fight at the Jakarta Convention Center.

Mr. Naito showcased his overwhelming wrestling skills, consistently bringing Mr. Silva down to the ground and controlling the action on the canvas.

But the Brazilian would defend well against the Japanese’s attacks by turning to his world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

It, however, eventually was overcome by Mr. Naito’s grit to see his cause through.

With eye on the prize, Mr. Naito would step things up in the final round, putting himself in dominant position throughout, which turned out to be the difference maker with two of three judges in the end having him the victor in their scorecards.

Mr. Naito said post-match that he is very happy to have regained the strawweight title but admitted it did not come easy as Mr. Silva fought very hard to defend his belt.

“There were some dangerous parts [during the match], but I showed some good grappling, and I was able to get [the win],” said Mr. Naito after his victory while thanking the Jakarta crowd.

With the victory, champion-anew Naito improved to 13-1 while Mr. Silva dropped to 7-2 and saw his six-fight winning streak come to an end.

Meanwhile, not so lucky were Filipino fighters Eric “The Natural” Kelly and Rome “The Rebel” Trinidad, who fell fast in their respective fights at Grit and Glory.

Mr. Kelly, looking to bust his way out of a telling four-fight losing streak, had the door shut on him by Japanese Tetsuya Yamada in the opening round of their catchweight fight.

Mr. Yamada traded strikes with the Baguio native to begin the match, and waited for the perfect time to take his opponent to the ground. Once he was able to put Mr. Kelly on the mat, the Japanese wasted little time to go for the finish, taking his opponent’s back and locked in the rear naked choke to force the tap by the third minute of the first round.

Ms. Trinidad, for her part, fell a little over two minutes into her atomweight fight with hometown bet Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol by way of submission (guillotine).

After a brief exchange of strikes at the center of the mat, Ms. Gaol grabbed a hold of Trinidad’s neck in a standing guillotine. As Ms. Trinidad tried to fend off the submission, action transitioned to the mat with Ms. Gaol still holding on to Filipina’s neck and the tap came shortly after.

Also victorious in Jakarta were strawweight Stefer Rahardian over Himanshu Kaushik by submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round; middleweight Leandro Ataides over Vitaly Bigdash by technical knockout (strikes) in the third round; and Sergey Maslobojev over Antonio Plazibat by unanimous decision in their ONE Super Series Kickboxing catchweight joust.

Next for ONE Championship is “Unstoppable Dreams” in Singapore on May 18 which will feature the women’s atomweight title fight between champion Angela Lee of Singapore and Mei Yamaguchi of Japan.

Also on tap is the world featherweight title battle between Australian Martin Nguyen and Singaporean Christian Lee. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo