Adriano Moraes unifies ONE Flyweight World Championship in five-round thriller
ONE Championship on Aug 06, 2017 01:06 AM
Adriano Moraes becomes the unified ONE Flyweight world champion after beating Kairat Akhmetov via Unanimous Decision. (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Two champions met in the co-main event of ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS on Saturday, 5 August at the Cotai Arena in Macao. But only one would leave with the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Championship.
The last time reigning champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov and Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes met back in November 2015, the Kazakhstani scored a close split decision win over the Brazilian to remain undefeated, and took the flyweight belt.
As fate would have it, after a devastating back injury that put Akhmetov on the shelf, Moraes would claim the interim title in August 2016, and earned a chance to rematch his old nemesis to unify the titles.
This time, the decision was unanimous. The Brazilian got his revenge, became undisputed titleholder, and finally put the lone blemish on Akhmetov’s record.
In the early going, “The Kazakh” seemed to have the confidence of a champion, pushing Moraes to the cage and looking for a takedown. But the American Top Team product blocked the early attempt, and overpowered Akhmetov on the second to score a takedown of his own.
Both men stood up with half a minute left, as the first round seemed to narrowly edge towards Moraes.
It was in the middle rounds that a strategy emerged, and would pay dividends for “Mikinho”. The Brazilian began to land repeated kicks to the body and ribs, and Akhmetov’s inability to see them coming, much less stop them from landing, left increasing damage to his midsection.
At times, the blows would even cause Akhmetov to visibly wince. The one highlight for the champion was a flash knockdown off an overhand left, early in the third stanza, but “The Kazakh” was visibly deflated as the match wore on.
A combination of body and leg kicks had drained his energy, and took the legs out from under him. He was unable to score takedowns on several attempts. Instead "The Kazakh” found himself dominated by his Brazilian opponent.
A telling fifth round saw the interim titleholder dump Akhmetov on a single leg, as “The Kazakh” desperately tried to keep his balance to no avail.
Akhmetov got one late takedown when the Brazilian let him stand up, but Moraes popped back to his feet, and hit a much more emphatic takedown before the bell to show Akhmetov who the flyweight boss really was.
The judges agreed and there was no controversy this time, as Moraes picked up a unanimous decision, unified the flyweight titles, and improved to 16-2 in the process.
Akhmetov had both his spirit and his streak broken, falling to 23-1, and needing to hope for a rubber match between the two.