DESPITE not seeing action in the ONE Championship cage for almost one year, Eric Kelly’s victory against Rob Lisita remains as one of the most awe inspiring display of courage inside Asia's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
In one of the greatest displays of heart and perseverance in promotional history, top Filipino featherweight Kelly headlined ONE’s first event in Chinese Taipei with a classic showdown against Australia’s Rob Lisita.
Lisita, who was then at the height of his prowess, was known as a relentless offensive machine, capable of ending fights in an instant with his powerful strikes. Conversely, Kelly’s strength lay in grappling, and it was obvious from the opening bell that he was at a disadvantage on the feet.
The Australian battler dominated Kelly for the majority of the bout, and looked to have the contest wrapped up when a devastating punch landed flush in the second round to stun Kelly.
Lisita continuously hunted for the finish, but the Filipino defended admirably, despite being visibly shaken.
Suddenly, Kelly dug deep into his reserves, and scrambled out of Lisita’s back control to sink in a rear-naked choke out of nowhere. The Australian had no choice but to tap. For his bravery, Kelly clinched the hard-earned victory, and deservedly became the first-ever recipient of a US$50,000 ONE warrior bonus, which is only awarded to martial artists, who showed immense fighting spirit.
The Baguio boy Kelly then followed it up with another victory against Hiroshoge Tanaka in ONE: Tigers of Asia on October 2015 but suffered back against Ev Ting and former featherweight champion Narantungalag Jadambaa and has not fought since.
Other notable fights, which displayed great courage in ONE include Vitaly Bigdash against Igor Svirid at ONE: Tigers of Asia; Angela Lee against Mei Yamaguchi At ONE: Ascent to Power; Zebaztian Kadestam against Luis Santos at ONE: Dynasty of Heroes, Amir Khan Against Vaughn Donayre At ONE: Defending Honor and Aung La N Sang against Vitaly Bigdash at ONE: Quest for Power. (PR)
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on June 16, 2017.
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