In a battle of bantamweights, Malaysia’s Saiful “The Vampire” Merican and China’s “Rock Man” Chen Lei went head-to-head in a heated battle of attrition in front of a packed Cotai Arena crowd on Saturday night, 5 August, in Macao. The pair delighted a raucous crowd with an inspiring scrap to open the main card of ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS.
In the end, it was a victory for Chen, who finished Merican in the third round with an armbar after a gruelling bout.
As soon as the first bell rang, the two competitors wasted absolutely no time, swinging for the fences as they were let out of the gates. The undefeated Chinese prospect, however, put his superior grappling skill on full display, taking the Malaysian down nearly at will.
Although Merican would often find his way back up to his feet, Chen would have no trouble dragging him back down to the mat. Towards the end of the first round, Chen nearly finished Merican with a deep americana. The keylock was well in place, but Merican refused to tap, and fought through the pain.
The second round saw Chen further his lead with more successful takedown attempts. In top position, Chen pounded on Merican with downward strikes and sharp elbows. Whenever Merican would somehow be able to stand up, Chen took him back down again, controlling him on the mat.
Merican, however, was never completely out of contention, landing hard and heavy strikes whenever he could. He even caused significant damage to Chen with a series of sharp elbows and knees.
In the third and final round, Chen proceeded to put on the finishing touches on his opponent, who fought gamely, but was clearly out of his element on the ground.
The ending sequence came as Chen stepped over Merican’s head and took his arm, hyperextending the joint to force the tap. The official finish came at 3:58 of round three, with Chen taking home a submission victory via armbar, which he apparently predicted in the days before the fight.
With the victory, Chen improves his record to an unblemished 6-0, while Merican drops to 5-4.