Gianni Subba was not going to let his hometown crowd down. He was determined.
On Friday, 18 August, the Malaysian put on a show in front of a packed house at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur at ONE: QUEST FOR GREATNESS.
He had to battle through numerous takedown attempts from Japanese veteran Riku “The Outsider” Shibuya, but he did plenty of damage over three rounds to earn the unanimous decision victory in their thrilling flyweight showdown.
The athletes wasted no time exchanging strikes, as they both fired away with a furious pace in the opening seconds of the first round. Subba gained the advantage first, after a scramble ended with the Malaysian blasting Shibuya with a huge knee on the ground. Subba did not slow down after the big shot landed, but he could not quite latch onto the back as he attempted to look for the submission.
The early setback did not deter “The Outsider,” who was making his return to the ONE Championship cage for the first time in more than a year and a half after suffering detached retinas in his last bout. Shibuya glued himself to Subba while trying to drag the bout to the ground, but he could not land the takedown.
Just before the bell, Subba uncorked a wild spinning back fist that barely missed its target, but it showed how explosive his striking game could be.
The second round saw more of the same from Shibuya, as he desperately tried to get the contest to the ground, but Subba’s defense was top-notch until Shibuya reversed position to land on top as the flyweights crashed to the mat. Eventually, the Malaysian worked back to the feet, but the Japanese warrior was relentless with his wrestling attack. He finally latched onto a single leg takedown to bring the match back down again.
Unfortunately for Shibuya, he still could not control Subba, who quickly got back to his feet. The hometown hero scrambled for a takedown before unleashing a devastating knee strike that landed on the side of Shibuya’s head. As the crowd erupted, he transitioned for a triangle choke from the bottom, but Shibuya did an excellent job to stay out of trouble.
In the third and final frame, Shibuya went back to his wrestling. He continued with constant takedown attempts, and eventually dragged his nemesis to the mat. “The Outsider,” however could not do much to advance his position.
Referee Yuji Shimada finally saw enough, and stood the competitors up again before Subba unleashed a lightning-quick combination. He tried to get the knockout, but time ran out before he could get a finish.
Still, after three rounds, Subba had done more than enough for the judges to score the bout in his favor as he wrapped up a unanimous decision victory.
The Malaysian improves to 9-2 and now has a victory over a former ONE Flyweight World Title challenger. Though valiant in his first match back since eye surgery nearly a year and a half ago, Shibuya loses, and drops to 13-4-2.