When Alex Silva heard that one of the judges had scored this fight for him he looked surprised. The previous five rounds had clearly not gone the way that the Brazilian thought they would, as Yoshitaka Naito completely nullified his offense.
Silva was making the first defense of his strawweight belt in a rematch with headlined ONE: Grit and Glory in Jakarta. He had dominated Naito in the first fight, but did not have things his way second time round after a thoughtful, intelligent performance from the Japanese former champion.
Having found himself on the receiving end of some devastating low kicks last December, Naito sensibly avoided any prolonged striking exchanges. He tried an overhand right in the opening exchanges, but promptly shot for a takedown which was stuffed by Silva.
Another takedown was unsuccessful, but as they clinched, Naito executed a trip and went on to spend the remainder of the round in top position, as Silva attempted a Kimura. The Japanese fighter threw some more punches at the start of the second, although there wasn’t much power behind them.
This time it was Silva who attempted the takedown as the round produced a series of scrambles with neither man able to gain a clear advantage. At the start of the third, Naito caught a leg kick and took Silva down, he went on to take the Brazilian’s back, but couldn’t capitalize with strikes or submission attempts.
Naito scored another takedown early in the fourth and Silva spent the remainder of the round trying to fight him off. The Brazilian briefly attempted a heel hook and was able to stand up for a couple of seconds and land some elbows, but it was the challenger who looked in control at this stage.
That impression was reinforced during the final round as Naito repeatedly looked for takedowns, forcing Silva into defensive mode. The fans at the Jakarta Convention Centre clearly appreciated how relentlessly the Japanese fighter was relentlessly pursuing his gameplan and his name rang out.
When the bell sounded to end the fight, Silva looked absolutely devastated, which made the split decision something of a surprise. But Naito never really looked like finishing the fight, he just did enough to frustrate the Brazilian and prevent his opponent from using either his BJJ or Muay Thai skills.
The win takes Naito to 13-1 and, afterward, he was grateful for the support from the Indonesian crowd.
“I wanted the Jakarta fans to remember my name and they did so I’m really glad,” he said through a translator.
Silva drops to 7-2 after suffering his first ever loss as a strawweight. This defeat snapped a five-fight winning streak, which dates all the way back to 2012, and it will be interesting to see whether ONE Championship decides to go ahead and make the rubber match.
One contender for Naito’s crown is Stefer Rahardian. The Indonesian improved to 8-0 with a quickfire rear-naked choke win against overmatched Indian Himanshu Kaushik (4-2), who showed plenty of heart but was never going to survive for long on the ground with the former flyweight.
One title fight which will definitely be happening involved middleweight champion Aung La Nsang. He will be facing Leandro Ataides (11-3) in Yangon on June 29 after the Brazilian stopped Vitaly Bigdash (9-2) with strikes in the third round on Saturday.
ONE: GRIT AND GLORY Fight Highlights
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ONE: GRIT AND GLORY Full Results
ONE Strawweight World Championship bout: Yoshitaka Naito defeats Alex Silva by Split Decision (SD) after 5 rounds
Strawweight bout: Stefer Rahardian defeats Himanshu Kaushik by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:25 minutes of round 1
Middleweight bout: Leandro Ataides defeats Vitaly Bigdash by TKO (Strikes) at 2:41 minutes of round 3
ONE Super Series Kickboxing catchweight bout (95kg): Sergej Maslobojev defeats Antonio Plazibat by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Women’s atomweight bout: Priscilla Hertati Lumban Gaol defeats Rome Trinidad by Submission (Guillotine) at 2:27 minutes of round 1
Featherweight bout: Sor Sey defeats Victorio Senduk by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Catchweight bout (72.0kg): Tetsuya Yamada defeats Eric Kelly by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:00 minutes of round 1
ONE Super Series Muay Thai bantamweight bout: Ognjen Topic defeats Stergos Mikkios by Unanimous Decision (UD) after 3 rounds
Bantamweight bout: Radeem Rahman defeats Tang De Pan by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:19 minutes of round 1
Flyweight bout: Elipitua Siregar defeats Dodi Mardian by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:59 minutes of round 1
Strawweight bout: Riski Umar defeats Doan Birawa by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:22 minutes of round 2