MACAU – Filipino fighters Eric Kelly and Joshua Pacio suffered the same fate in falling to touted Japanese foes in the ONE: Kings and Conquerors card on Saturday, here at the Cotai Arena.
Kotetsu Boku looked tremendously sharp as he spoiled Kelly's return to the ONE Championship cage by finishing the Filipino in the third round.
'No Face' came up with the finish with 1:32 left in the final round after delivering some brutal ground and pound to prompt the referee to stop the fight.
Kelly failed to build on a blistering first round where he controlled the fight with short leg kicks and a straight right counter, which floored the usually durable Japanese.
The 35-year old Igorot once again sent Boku on the mat with another straight but that proved to be the final significant offense that he landed as Boku started to turn the tide.
A good combination which culminated with a short right hook hurt Kelly and that proved to be the turning point of the match.
Boku continued to pummel Kelly, including some vicious knees to end the round which definitely set the tone for that killer finish.
The 40-year-old Japanese stud then went for the kill in the third round, controlling Kelly on the ground while raining down blows on his defenseless foe.
With the loss, Kelly dropped his third straight fight and went down to 12-4. Boku, on the other hand, improved to 28-11.
Meanwhile, Pacio’s road back to the title hit a major roadblock after suffering a submission loss at the hands of the unbeaten Hayato Suzuki.
It was a total letdown for the 21 year old Lakay stalwart as he was poised for another shot at Strawweight champ Yoshitaka Naito had he beaten his Japanese foe in this card.
But it wasn't meant to be as he was forced to submit with 3:17 left in the first round after the deep veteran locked in the rear naked choke.
From the onset, the gameplan of Suzuki was to get the fight on the ground and he succeeded in doing just that as he quickly got Pacio in the ground.
It didn't take long for the 31-year-old to lock in the submission as he transitioned to Pacio's back and locked in the choke after a bit of resistance from Pacio.
Pacio had no other choice but to tap allowing Suzuki to improve to 17-0 while the Team Lakay prospect fell to 9-2.