Brandon Vera stops Japanese foe in first round to retain ONE heavyweight title
Japan's Hideki Sekine desperately tries to stay out of the range of a relentless attack by Fil-Am champion Brandon Vera. Jerome Ascano

AS soon as the referee stopped the fight, Brandon Vera stood up and pointed skyward, signaling he remains the king of the ONE Championship’s heavyweight division.

The Filipino-American MMA star stamped his class once again as he scored a technical knockout win over Hideki Sekine  for a successful title defense in ONE: Age of Domination.

Vera connected on a handful of knees to the face and and a kick to the body that knocked down his 43-year-old Japanese foe, before pounding him on the ground to finish him off midway through the first round.

“Maligayang Pasko,” Vera exclaimed as he addressed the crowd.

It was another quick finish for the former Ultimate Fighting Championship contender, who won his third straight fight in the first round.

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Vera, though, had to dodge an early bullet from the grappling specialist before hitting the Japanese with a knee that broke his nose and marked the beginning of the end.

“That knee came off of him almost taking me down, so I didn’t even realize that crushed his nose,” Vera admitted. “When I hit him, the first thing I thought of, ‘thank God he didn’t take me down’ because we’re still dry. Hindi pa madulas.”

Then he connect on a kick on a body that floored his older opponent and set the stage for the early finish.

“Walang tao sa buong mundo kayang kainin yung sipa ko,” Vera beamed. “That’s the only thing I’ll be cocky about: my kicks. Yun lang. I promise.”

Bibiano Fernadnes also defended his bantamweight crown, but just barely as he outlasted Reece McLaren with a split-decision win.

Facing arguably his toughest – and probably cockiest – challenger in a while, the Brazilian champion couldn’t take the fight to the ground as McLaren connected on early strikes, including one that broke Fernandes’ nose.

Yet Fernandes proved up to the challenge standing up as the McLaren’s bark wound up louder than his bite.

“Broken nose, broken anything, it didn’t matter,” Fernandes said.

Like Vera, fellow Fil-Am Mark Striegl emerged victorious, sticking to what he does best to score a unanimous decision win over Sotir Kichukov in a catchweight (67.5 kilograms) bout.

Striegl tried numerous attempts of rear-naked and guillotine chokes to no avail, but it hardly mattered as he outclassed his Bulgarian foe on the ground to score the one-sided win.


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos