With a roaring crowd at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, ONE: IRON WILL kicked off with four bouts on the preliminary card, and they were full of drama from start to finish.
Most notably, fan favorite Alain “The Panther” Ngalani kicked off his light heavyweight career with a win over a Mongolian newcomer, who gave him everything he could handle over all three rounds.
From high-level striking to world-class grappling, the prelims featured a little bit of everything. Here is what unfolded during the preliminary portion of ONE: IRON WILL.
Kritsada Kongsrichai Disqualified For Suplex TKO
While Thailand’s Kritsada Kongsrichai was initially awarded a TKO over the Philippines’ Robin Catalan in the final bout of the preliminary card, his win was overturned to a disqualification loss upon further review.
“Dream Man,” a multi-time Thai wrestling champion, was ready to put Catalan away with his dynamic grappling, as he brought the action to the ground, and intended to keep it there.
Following an initial exchange on the mat, the two scrambled back to the feet. Kongsrichai was quick to work his way inside yet again, all while looking for the takedown — this time, from the body lock position.
As soon as Kongsrichai locked his hands around the waist, he turned his hips, took his opponent’s back for a split second, and launched Catalan into the air before sending the Filipino crashing down.
Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship, explained the disqualification (DQ) in a Facebook post.
“While I am a big fan of Kritsada Kongsrichai and his incredible athleticism, the fight against Robin Catalan has now been ruled a DQ. After careful video review of the fight under multiple angles, it has been deemed that an illegal suplex was utilized,” stated Sityodtong.
“At ONE Championship, all variations of suplexes are illegal, and any attempt or intent results in an automatic disqualification. Robin Catalan will now be awarded the victory, and his win bonus. It will also be ruled a loss via DQ for Kritsada Kongsrichai and his official fight record.
“As a fellow lifelong martial artist, I fully understand that no athlete wants to win or lose under the cloud of a DQ. However, as the leader of ONE Championship, I am here to ensure that safety is the number-one priority at all times for all of our athletes.”
Alain Ngalani Out-Works Ariunbold Tur-Ochir
Alain “The Panther” Ngalani is best known for his highlight reel knockouts, but the new light heavyweight showed off a new patience and endurance to get back in the win column. He looked measured in his split decision victory over Mongolian newcomer Ariunbold Tur-Ochir.
What was expected to be a battle between two elite strikers turned into a war of attrition, with Tur-Ochir trying to tire Ngalani out by constantly pressing with the clinch against the cage, all while battering away with inside punches and knees.
In theory, the Mongolian expected “The Panther” to slow down, and eventually gas out. But the Hong Kong-based hulk was more than happy to disappoint him.
Instead of struggling for air, Ngalani countered his opponent’s strategy with a series of stinging kicks to the legs. He even managed to reverse a takedown attempt to land one of his own, which saw him quickly move into mount, and unload some ground and pound.
Tur-Ochir tried mightily to keep Ngalani from unleashing his thunderous finishing power, and while he may have survived until the final bell, he was unable to unleash any effective offense throughout the three-round contest.
Ngalani landed the more powerful strikes, and committed the most damage. He also showed a much improved gas tank and ground game, which earned him the split decision nod in the end.
“The Panther” is successful in his light heavyweight debut. He moves one step closer to a rematch with two-division ONE World Champion Aung La N Sang.
Gilberto Galvao Spoils Jake Butler’s Return
Jake Butler’s return to ONE Championship ended in disappointing fashion. A knee injury put an end to his night after a year and a half away from the cage.
It was an unfortunate end after what started as a fantastic ground battle against BJJ specialist Gilberto “Giba” Galvao, who nearly earned the victory after locking up a tight kimura during the opening round.
Unfortunately, as the second round got underway, Butler planted his lead foot to unleash a powerful punch, and he immediately crumbled to the ground holding his knee. Referee Kemp Cheng quickly jumped in to stop the action, and prevent any further damage being done to Butler.
Galvao was declared the victor by TKO due to injury, and picks up a thirtieth career victory in the process.
Sunoto Glides To Unanimous Decision Nod
Sunoto did not produce a first-round finish as he predicted, but the Indonesian bantamweight still did more than enough to get a win in the opening bout of ONE: IRON WILL.
As the match-up got underway, “The Terminator” made it clear that he was going to turn this into a ground battle against Malaysia’s Hisyam “Zephyrus” Samsudin, and that is where the majority of the action took place during the first two rounds.
Sunoto took Samsudin to the mat repeatedly, and without much resistance from his Malaysian opponent. “The Terminator” was methodical with his attacks, going from ground and pound to submissions, where he nearly ended the second frame with a rear-naked choke.
Samsudin may have survived the submission attempt, but he did not manage to turn things around in the final period. Instead, he ate several hard shots on the feet. The repeated takedowns of Sunoto kept the Malaysian from unleashing his well-documented boxing, and that ultimately cost him over the course of three rounds.
When the bout came to an end, there was no doubt that Sunoto had secured the victory. He moves to 8-3 in his career, and is now on a three-bout win streak.