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Former Cage Warriors heavyweight champion Mauro Cerilli bounced back into the win column in the main event of ONE Championship 127 in Singapore to move one step closer to a heavyweight title rematch with Brandon Vera.
Cerilli lost out to Vera via first-round knockout in his first title challenge back at ONE Championship 85 in November 2018. He bounced back with a victory over Alain Ngalani, but fell to another defeat as he was outpointed by Arjan Bhullar at “ONE Championship: Century – Part 2” in October 2019.
But, after taking more than a year away from the cage, “The Hammer” returned in fine form to snap Abdulbasir Vagabov’s 10-fight winning streak and push himself back into the heavyweight title conversation.
Vagabov pushed the pace from the opening bell as he chased the backpedaling Cerilli around the cage, with the Italian throwing the occasional one-two combination to give the Russian contender a moment’s pause.
Vagabov continued his forward pressure, but Cerilli ensured that the Russian’s winging punches connected with nothing but air as he kept out of punching range, then connected with occasional counter-strikes of his own. After struggling to make an impact with his strikes, Vagabov then turned to his wrestling, but his takedown attempts late in the round were well defended by the big Italian.
After a frustrating first round, Vagabov started Round 2 noticeably slower and Cerilli took full advantage in the opening seconds as he stepped into range and slammed a powerful kick to the Vagabov’s left hamstring. The impact of the shot forced the Russian down to his hands and knees and Cerilli moved in and unloaded a trio of clean left hands to his grounded opponent before referee Olivier Coste dived in to stop the bout at the 26-second mark.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) January 29, 2021
Persistence pays off for Takenaka
In the night's co-main event, Japan's [autotag]Daichi Takenaka[/autotag] moved down a weight class and made an immediate impact in his new division with a third-round submission of [autotag]Ivanildo Delfino[/autotag] on his flyweight debut. Takenaka identified the rear-naked choke as the best route to victory against Delfino, and relentlessly chased that technique throughout the fight before finally forcing the Brazilian to tap midway through the third round. Takenaka had the clear grappling advantage on the mat and repeatedly took Delfino's back during their flyweight clash. But, despite appearing to lock up his go-to submission technique on multiple occasions, the Japanese athlete couldn't quite put his opponent away. But, after two rounds of dominance, Takenaka finally broke Delfino's stubborn resistance with a final choke attempt to force the tap at the 2:50 mark in Round 3. https://twitter.com/ONEChampionship/status/1355158758368837635
Kwon crushes Chen with body-shot KO
[autotag]Kwon Won Il[/autotag] threw the kitchen sink at [autotag]Chen Rui[/autotag] in their bruising bantamweight encounter, but no matter what the South Korean hurled at him, the Chinese fighter somehow kept on coming back for more. Kwon took charge in Round 1 as he took down Chen and battered him with ground strikes that threatened to finish the fight. But Chen did just enough to convince the referee that he should be allowed to continue. Round 2 saw Kwon dish out even more punishment to Chen, this time in the stand-up as he connected with the Chinese fighter's chin seemingly at will. But, despite landing huge shots, Chen's iron chin kept him in the fight. After two rounds of hammering Chen's face with punches without success, Kwon changed targets and got his reward as he ripped Chen to the body with a vicious left uppercut that finally dropped his man for a third-round knockout. Kwon then took advantage of his post-fight interview to call for a fight with fellow power puncher John Lineker, screaming, "I want to fight you!" https://twitter.com/ONEChampionship/status/1355151243857956866
Em wears down Choi
[autotag]Sovannahry Em[/autotag] stepped into the cage to face [autotag]Choi Jung Yoon[/autotag] with a clear gameplan, and she stuck doggedly to it as she relentlessly pursued the takedown before eventually finishing her opponent with ground strikes in the second round. Em immediately closed the distance on Choi as she quickly denied the South Korean athlete the time and space to get her strikes off. Despite her high-pressure approach, the Cambodian-American was unable to find the opening for a finish in the first round. That changed in Round 2, however, with Choi simply having no answer to Em's forward pressure and smothering clinch game. Eventually, the action found its way to the mat again, and Em created enough space to unload with a succession of ground strikes to force the stoppage midway through the round. https://twitter.com/ONEChampionship/status/1355140840146960384
'Reug Reug' claims first-round finish
Senegalese powerhouse [autotag]Oumar Kane[/autotag] got his ONE Championship career off to a winning start with a first-round TKO finish of [autotag]Alain Ngalani[/autotag]. In a bout that promised spectacular action, both men seemed very wary of each other's power, and it was Ngalani who held the upper hand early as he switched to the southpaw stance and connected with a few kicks to Kane's midsection. The lack of action didn't impress referee Olivier Coste, who paused the action to demand more activity from both men, and Kane responded by surging forward and forcing Ngalani up against the fence. After a brief battle in the clinch, "Reug Reug" took Ngalani to the mat before posturing up and connecting with a succession of heavy punches to the Hong Kong-based Cameroonian's head. After a relentless barrage of shots, Ngalani finally attempted to escape the predicament, but referee Coste had already seen enough and waved off the contest with 27 seconds remaining in the opening round. https://twitter.com/ONEChampionship/status/1355135674094022656
'ONE Championship 127: Unbreakable II' official results
Mauro Cerilli vs. Abdulbasir Vagabov via TKO (leg kick and punches) – Round 2, 0:26
Daichi Takenaka def. Ivanildo Delfino via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 2:50
Kwon Won Il def. Chen Rui via knockout (body shot) – Round 3, 0:34
Sovannahry Em def. Choi Jung Yoon via TKO (ground and pound) – Round 2, 2:50
Oumar Kane def. Alain Ngalani TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:33