With a sellout crowd in attendance at City of Dreams, Legend’s first Macau event showcased 18 of the Asia-Pacific’s most elite MMA fighters putting on an unforgettable night of combat sports entertainment. It will continue to be available on US and Canadian Pay-Per-View during the coming week, and will be available on TV in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Singapore later this month.
Fight 1: Sung Ming-Yen (Chinese Taipei) vs. Vincent Siu (Hong Kong)
While both fighters appeared evenly matched on their feet, Siu’s limited experience on the ground soon became apparent. Recognizing this weakness, Sung quickly took the fight to the ground, where he was able to establish the mount and begin raining down punches upon his helpless opponent. When Siu gave his back in an attempt to escape the punishment, Sung wasted no time in sinking in a rear naked choke, forcing the tap at 1:49 of Round 1.
Fight 2: Yang Hae Jun (South Korea) vs. Gareth Ealey (New Zealand)
Previously a heavyweight, Korea’s “Hungry” Yang recently made the decision to drop down to middleweight – a choice that served him well in his contest against Strike Force Auckland product Ealey. A last-minute replacement for the injured Pat Crawley, Ealey brought the same aggressive, stand-up focused style as his teammate. Although Ealey seemed to be getting the better of the early exchanges, he fractured his hand during one of the initial flurries, which limited him for the remainder of the fight. Yang took full advantage of this handicap to out-Box Ealey, but he was unable to finish the fight against the tough New Zealander, settling for a unanimous decision victory instead.
Fight 3: Fransino Tirta (Indonesia) vs. Wu Chengjie (China)
Wu used leg kicks and footwork in the early part of Round 1 in an effort to keep the fight standing. However, once Tirta took the fight to the ground, he quickly demonstrated why he is considered one of the best ground-fighters in Asia-Pacific MMA. He maintained dominant position throughout most of the first and second rounds, dropping devastating knees to the Chinese fighter’s head from the north-south position, and narrowly missing a submission when Wu was saved by the bell at the end of Round 1. The third round saw Tirta tiring, while Wu began to press the Indonesian more aggressively, trying to avoid putting the fight into the hands of the judges. However, Tirta was able to weather the late storm and take the win by unanimous decision.
Fight 4: Ken Hamamura (Japan) vs. Wang Sai (China)
Karate black belt Hamamura and Sanda champion Wang both came out of their corners aggressively, immediately launching into the stand-up battle they had promised. Wang quickly demonstrated his superior striking, driving his Japanese opponent into the ropes and rocking him with several heavy punches before Hamamura successfully secured a takedown and used the opportunity to compose himself on the ground. Wang continued to be effective even off his back, landing clean punches and elbows to Hamamura’s head and body as the Japanese fighter returned fire from the top. With only a few seconds remaining in the first round, the referee stood both fighters up. And as Hamamura took a step backward to move out of his opponent’s range, his knee buckled, sending him to the canvas as the bell sounded. Unable to continue due to the injury, Wang was declared the winner by TKO in a fight which was cut disappointingly short.
Fight 5: Yusuke Kawanago (Japan) vs. Mark Striegl (Philippines)
Striegl’s strategy quickly became apparent: take the fight to the ground and go for the submission. And Kawanago’s strategy was equally obvious: punish Striegl every time he tried to take him down. Unfortunately for Striegl, Kawanago was able to execute his game plan to brutal effect, using a combination of counter-punching, sprawls, and even a flying knee to counter most of the Filipino’s takedown attempts. On the ground, the Japanese fighter was able to repeatedly land knees to the head of his opponent, clearly rocking him on several occasions. Striegl found some success in the final round, scoring a few clean takedowns, and attempting a submission, but it was too little too late…or so it seemed, until the judges awarded Striegl a controversial split decision victory.
Fight 6: Alex Niu (China) vs. Li Jingliang (China)
After spending the first half of Round 1 finding their range and feeling each other out, the rest of the fight played out exactly as expected: a battle between two strikers with iron chins. Niu was initially able to use his range and speed to keep his younger opponent at bay, but as the fight wore on, Li figured out Niu’s timing and employed his Muay Thai to effectively counter-strike, using his much improved head movement to slip much of Niu’s offense and fire back with punches and elbows from all angles. Li ultimately walked away with a unanimous decision victory, and has in all likelihood lined himself up for a shot at the Legend Welterweight Title.
Fight 7: Nam Yui Chul (South Korea) vs. Rob Hill (Australia)
What was expected to be one of the most exciting contests of the evening did not disappoint, as Nam and Hill engaged in what could be best described as a technical brawl. There was no initial feeling-out process, with both fighters coming out swinging from the opening bell. Nam’s powerful combinations opened up cuts above both of Hill’s eyes, but it was the Australian who got the better of the first round exchanges by using his dirty boxing and counter-punching. In spite of being knocked down, Nam’s famously solid chin kept him in the game, and in the second round it was the Korean who began landing the heavier and more effective strikes. Hill was sent crashing to the canvas during a particularly furious exchange, and Nam followed him to the mat with a series of unanswered punches and elbows, forcing the referee to call a stop to the contest at 1:12 of Round 2.
Fight 8: Jo Nam Jin (South Korea) vs. Yao Honggang (China)
Though considered a slight underdog going into the fight, Yao soon established that he had earned his contender status. The China Top Team product neutralized Jo’s grappling as he took down his Korean opponent at will, raining down barrages of heavy ground-and-pound at every opportunity. The few times Jo was able to establish top position, Yao quickly escaped, including a spectacular reversal into mount in the first round. In spite of twice threatening Yao with submission attempts, Jo never had his opponent in any serious trouble. And although Yao had a point deducted for an illegal upkick, the judges still came back with a unanimous decision victory for Yao, crowning him as Legend’s inaugural Bantamweight Champion in an emotional post-fight award ceremony.
Fight 9: Bae Myung Ho (South Korea) vs. Rod MacSwain (New Zealand)
MacSwain was the better fighter in the first round, landing some heavy leg kicks to his Korean opponent, stuffing multiple takedown attempts, and controlling the ring as he repeatedly bullied Bae into the ropes. However, the tide turned in the middle of the second round, when Bae successfully scored his first takedown. The Korean showed excellent top control, landing some effective ground strikes and wearing MacSwain down by driving his weight into the Kiwi. Bae was able to secure both a crucifix position and the mount, and closed out the third round with some savage ground-and-pound to earn a unanimous nod from the judges as the new Legend Welterweight Champion.