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Sports

Out in 26 seconds, Vera dispatches last-minute foe

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Brandon Vera took merely 26 seconds to dispose of last-minute foe Paul Cheng in wresting the first ONE Championship heavyweight title in the “Spirit of Champions” at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

Vera landed a jarring left hook and then followed it up with a devastating left kick to the head that sent Cheng, a last-minute replacement to Chi-Lewis Parry, to the floor where he absorbed a barrage of haymakers, prompting the referee to stop the contest to the delight of the home crowd.

“This title is not for me. It’s for everyone of you,” said the 38-year-old Vera in Filipino during the post-fight interview on stage. “Merry Christmas.”

Vera thus emerged ONE’s very first heavyweight titlist with an unbeaten 2-0 (win-loss) record in this outfit.

His first win in ONE came at the expense of Igor Subora, another first round TKO (punch and soccer kicks) that lasted a little longer at 3.54 minutes in Warriors’ Way last year at the same venue.

All in all, Vera has a 14-7 slate, most of them coming in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the most prestigious mixed martial arts outfit in the world.

Vera’s win was one of the two in the day for the host country after Eugene Toquero won over Li Wei Bin via technical knockout. Li didn’t want to continue fighting in the third round.

The pair of wins made up for heartbreaking defeats by three other Philippine bets Mark Streigl, Ana Julaton and Ruel Catalan.

Julaton dropped a unanimous decision to Russian Irina Mazepa while Streigl tapped out of a rear-naked choke by Aussie Reece McLaren late in the third round.

Catalan went out the quickest among the Filipinos as he fell via submission at the hands of Brazilian Alex Silva in the first round of their flyweight duel.

Vera and Toquero saved the day for the Filipino fans.

“I just want to make the crowd happy,” said Toquero, a Cebuano.

ONE, meanwhile, gave one of its fighters, Yang Jian Bing, a moment of silence after the Chinese flyweight died hours before the fight card at the nearby San Juan De Dios Hospital due to complications caused by his failed weight cut.

Yang, 21, was supposed to fight Filipino Geje Eustaquio, but didn’t make the weigh-in Thursday after he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed the day after.

“There is nothing more profoundly tragic and sad than when a member of the One Championship family, current or past, passes away,” said One CEO Victor Cui in an official statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Yang Jian Bing. We will work closely with the family and offer all the support they need in any way we can during this very difficult time,” he added.

The MMA-related death was the first in ONE.

ACIRC

ANA JULATON AND RUEL CATALAN

AUSSIE REECE

BRANDON VERA

BRAZILIAN ALEX SILVA

CHI-LEWIS PARRY

EUGENE TOQUERO

FILIPINO GEJE EUSTAQUIO

IGOR SUBORA

ONE

YANG JIAN BING

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