A new champion, and a prospect avenging a controversial loss kicked off the year for ONE Championship at Saturday’s Eternal Glory card in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Kicking off 2019 for ONE Championship was Eternal Glory, going down Saturday in Jakarta. The new year truly was the dawn of a new era for the Asian MMA powerhouse: signings of Sage Northcutt, Demetrious Johnson, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Eddie Alvarez had them in the spotlight. The appointment of Miesha Tate to an executive position, and a U.S. television deal, furthered that.
Yet to launch their 2019 slate of events, none of those big stars were on hand. Instead, the promotion booked some ONE Championship originals, including strawweight champ Joshua Pacio, and young prospect Christian Lee, brother of ONE superstar atomweight champ Angela Lee.
It was Lee who really stood out Saturday, in a rematch with former foe Edward Kelly. Their first fight, at Beyond the Horizon in September of last year, ended with a DQ win for Kelly. The call took the wind right out of Lee’s sails, after he’d executed a devastating, but illegal, suplex.
No such controversy mired Saturday’s rematch at Eternal Glory, however. Lee came out a man on a mission, and before long, had Kelly mounted. Dropping some nasty ground-and-pound, the twenty-year old quickly earned the TKO finish. The win improved ‘The Warrior’ to 11-3 as a pro, with two straight victories. Lee, who came up short in a title challenge against Martin Nguyen last year, will no doubt find himself on the fast track to a featherweight title shot once again. He called for just that, yelling out “I want that belt” in his post-fight interview in Jakarta.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) January 19, 2019
The main event, meanwhile, was a much closer affair than anyone imagined. Yosuke Saruta, stepping into a strawweight title fight on short notice, put on a spirited effort against champ Joshua Pacio. Pacio, who was on a four fight win streak and had claimed the belt from Yoshitaka Naito in his last fight, was in the fight of his life as the bout wore on. Incredibly close action, with the champ active with kicks, but Saruta began controlling the action later in the fight. As good as Pacio’s takedown defense was in the fourth round, for example, he simply couldn’t get off any offense, while Saruta was briefly able to get the fight to the mat.
In the fifth and final round, the grappling battle became even more important, with a number of slick transitions that saw Saruta in mount for a mere second before Pacio escaped. Yet the challenger continued to control the head in the clinch as the pair moved to their feet, firing knees.
When it came down to it, the judges gave Saruta the split decision nod — and heading into a A New Era in Tokyo, there was a new strawweight champion in ONE Championship, Yosuke Saruta!
For full results from ONE Championship: Eternal Glory, check out our results page!