Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes and Reece “Lightning” McLaren put on a tremendous show in a five-round title contest for Fernandes’ ONE Bantamweight World Championship.
The two warriors engaged in a high-level striking and grappling encounter in the co-main event of ONE: AGE OF DOMINATION, which took place Friday evening, 2 December, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Both Fernandes and McLaren had their moments in an extremely close bout, which reflected on the judges’ scorecards, as a split decision was read in favor of the defending champion.
The first two rounds saw a dominant Fernandes, who tagged McLaren repeatedly with looping right hands and thunderous leg kicks. Whenever Fernandes would shoot for a takedown, he was also successful.
On the ground, McLaren tried to hang tough with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace, defending well against submissions and transitioning back up to his feet when he saw the opportunity.
In the third round however, McLaren let loose his offense, swinging wildly with left hooks until one punched landed so cleanly that it broke Fernandes’ nose from the sheer magnitude of the impact. Fernandes tried desperately to recuperate, but McLaren kept pushing aggressively.
In the fourth round, Fernandes regained control of the bout, keeping McLaren at bay with beautiful boxing from range. McLaren tried his best to close the gap but was largely unsuccessful.
The last round saw both fighters going for broke.
At the end of the bout, both Fernandes and McLaren knew they had been in an absolute war — one that will go down in the books as one of the best bantamweight contests in ONE Championship history.
It was comprehensive performance from both fighters who gave everything they had. In the end, Fernandes showed just enough championship mettle to eke out the victory over the talented young McLaren.
With the win, Fernandes retains his ONE Bantamweight World Championship and improves his record to 20-3 while McLaren falls to 9-4.
Despite the loss however, McLaren has showed great skill and will most likely remain a mainstay at the top of ONE Championship’s bantamweight division. Could a rematch be in the cards? Fans surely would not mind one bit if these two went at it one more time.