MANILA -- Despite a two-year layoff, Brandon Vera showed on Friday night that he can still pack a punch and still be the heavyweight champion.
Vera made a triumphant return to ONE Championship by knocking out Mauro Cerilli in the main event of “ONE: Conquest of Champions”, held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Vera needed barely a minute to finish off Cerilli. Cerilli missed out on a huge right hook, and Vera capitalized on it by connecting on a left hook of his own that sent the former down for good, forcing the referee to stop the contest at the 1:04 mark of the very first round.
Vera moves up to 21-6 overall.
Back as lightweight champ
Eduard Folayang is a world mixed martial arts champion again.
Folayang reclaimed the erstwhile vacant ONE lightweight belt after beating Singaporean opponent Amir Khan in the co-main event of ONE.
A year after he lost the belt to Martin Nguyen, who eventually relinquished it right at the same venue, Folayang took back the belt with an impressive performance against Khan.
Folayang began taking over in Round 2, foiling Khan's aerial strike and converting it into a takedown, even going on a ground-and-pound action.
He again took down Khan in Round 3 while aggravating a cut under the latter's right eye, which slowed him down the rest of the way. Folayang eventually won via unanimous decision.
Folayang became the fourth member of Team Lakay to win a ONE Championship belt this year, joining straw-weight champ Joshua Pacio, flyweight champ Geje Eustaquio, and bantamweight champ Kevin Belingon.
Banario edges Indian rival
Honorio Banario bounced back from his stinging defeat against Amir Khan last September with a victory over India's Rahul Raju in one of the matches.
Banario survived Raju's ground game and even came close to a submission in some occasions before taking the unanimous decision win.
He delivered the crisper strikes on Raju in Round 1, but it was his newfound brilliance on the ground that made the difference in the last two rounds.
Banario got out easily off Raju's early Round 2 takedown, and after some more strikes, got two chances at submitting Raju via armbar that the latter survived.
Raju got another chance at turning the tides early into Round 3 as he scored another quick takedown on Banario.
However, Banario once again got out of the takedown and even delivered a rear naked choke on Raju, only that the latter was just saved by the bell.
Miado stops Chinese foe
Another Pinoy fighter, Jeremy Miado added one more name to his knockout list in Chinese fighter Peng Xue Wen, delivering the finish early into the second round of their fight.
After a nip-and-tuck Round 1, Miado connected on a left hook to Peng's head that rocked the latter. Miado then followed it with a right hook that sent Peng down.
Peng tried to bring Miado to the ground to no avail. The latter delivered a right uppercut to complete the finish at the 34-second mark of Round 2.
Bactol falls to Fujisawa
Meanwhile, Rockie Bactol failed to hold on as he fell prey to Akihiro Fujisawa.
In a battle between the former competitors of the reality show, One Warrior Series, Bactol came just close to surviving Fujisawa's ground game, bringing the fight to the scorecards.
However, Fujisawa found an opening to strike his ground-and-pound game on Bactol, forcing Referee Olivier Coste to end the match with only 18 seconds remaining.
Bactol actually had a good start, but Fujisawa's ground game proved to be brilliant in the rest of Round 1, even coming close to a leg submission.
Fujisawa's dominance continued in Round 2 before he went for the finish late in Round 3.
Brazilian downs ex-heavyweight title contender
Brazil's Alexandre Machado made a huge recovery in the second round to beat Japan's Hideki Sekine.
Machado turned things around after Sekine, Brandon Vera's last challenger for the ONE heavyweight belt, got his ground game going in Round 1 and forced him to concede after some ground-and-pound action in the next five minutes.
Sekine quickly used his brilliance in the grappling game, taking down Machado four times in a little over two minutes to start the contest.
However, Machado kept his poise to prevent the submission defeat.
In Round 2, Machado connected on three left hooks to the head of Sekine that shook the latter up. He eventually sent Sekine down and used the ground-and-pound on him, forcing Referee Olivier Coste to stop the contest at the round’s 1:44 mark.
Photo from MMA Junkie website