After a year and a half away from the cage, ONE Championship lightweight contender Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton is ready to make his return to the global stage, and he has the world title in his sights.
The 36-year-old Costa Rican is scheduled to meet former lightweight world title challenger Ev Ting at ONE: QUEST FOR GOLD, which broadcasts live from the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday, 23 February.
Sexton, who proudly owns an 11-3 professional record, is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the legendary Renzo Gracie. He is riding a three-bout win streak, and he has a perfect 100 percent finishing rate inside the cage.
As “Tarzan” prepares for his clash against Ting, we revisit three of his landmark victories.
His Reverse Triangle Keylock Of Anvar Alizhanov
Following his decision loss to Kamal Shalorus in March 2014, Sexton was looking to get back on the right foot and unleash his inner greatness. Later that December, he encountered another high level grappler in undefeated Kazakhstan freestyle wrestling champion Anvar Alizhanov at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (BEIJING).
In the first round, Alizhanov floored Sexton with a massive combination, and immediately followed him to the canvas. “Tarzan,” however, executed a fantastic sweep and instantly moved to side control. As the wrestling champion attempted to maneuver and escape, the Costa Rican continued to control his opponent’s arms and legs.
Sexton displayed his grappling expertise by taking Alizhanov’s back, and then transitioning right into full mount, where he unloaded punch after punch. Once the Russian rolled to his back, “Tarzan” worked for a full nelson while simultaneously locking in a body figure four.
Eventually, Sexton changed his strategy. He secured a reverse triangle, and then twisted Alizhanov’s trapped left arm to apply a keylock. At that point, it was checkmate, and the Russian had no choice by to tap out.
Submitting Eddie Ng
In May 2015, Sexton met a rising star in Evolve MMA’s Eddie “The Magician” Ng at ONE: WARRIOR’S QUEST.
The well-rounded Ng controlled much of the opening stanza with a relentless stand-up attack. In fact, many of his punches and kicks took a toll on “Tarzan.”
However, with two minutes left in the frame, Sexton found his range. He started to rattle “The Magician” with powerful one-shot strikes, and completing his takedowns. The Costa Rican even secured a triangle choke in the closing seconds of the round, but Ng was saved by the bell.
Sexton stalked the Evolve MMA product to open the second round, and soon landed an overhand right that he progressed into a takedown. He transitioned into full mount, and as Ng tried to escape the position, Sexton slid onto his back and immediately locked in a rear-naked choke.
“The Magician” was forced to tap out at the 1:10 mark of the second round, and the win legitimized Sexton as a threat to the lightweight crown.
Forcing Roger Huerta To Quit
Coming off the win against Ng, Sexton received his most high profile bout yet. In July 2016, he clashed with international sensation Roger “El Matador” Huerta at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (HEFEI).
A notorious slow starter, Sexton saw Huerta open up early and land some powerful strikes. Still, “Tarzan” pressed forward and tried to apply pressure on “El Matador.” Towards the end of the first round, Sexton’s unorthodox striking paid off, as he hurt the world-renown superstar and brought him to the canvas.
In the second frame, it became clear the powerful punches of “Tarzan” were really taking a toll on Huerta, and the Costa Rican’s lunging uppercuts continued to find the mark. The Thai-based American had an iron chin, but was visibly in trouble.
Sexton continued to impose his will on the veteran superstar in the third round, and once the bout hit the mat, “Tarzan” was in full control of Huerta. Nearly halfway through the stanza, “El Matador” brought the match back to the feet in an effort to stun his opponent, but Sexton kept up the assault with powerful uppercuts, straight punches, and kicks.
With 67 seconds remaining in the contest, Huerta had enough. He waved the contest off and verbally submitted. This was Sexton’s biggest victory of his career, and he hopes to keep the momentum rolling against Ting on 23 February.