With a Vengeance: Eustaquio Wins Interim Crown; Pacio and Kelly Impress

26992725_1874223552596117_1538792300082200160_n

Team Lakay Proves They’re Still on Top of Their Game

New Hayabusa Banner

Last year was devastating for Filipino MMA fans as Team Lakay’s leader Eduard ‘Landslide’ Folayang lost his ONE lightweight strap to heavy-handed Martin Nguyen. Coming out of ONE: Global Superheroes, however, Team Lakay showed us that Folayang’s reign was just the tip of the iceberg.

Inheriting the top spot as the face of Team Lakay is Geje ‘Gravity’ Eustaquio, who opened 2018 with a pleasant gift for the Filipino fight nation – the ONE interim flyweight championship.

January 26 was indeed a sweet night for Eustaquio. He snagged the gold after taking the unanimous decision victory over Kairat Akhmetov – a man who, in many people’s opinion, stole one from Eustaquio the last time they met inside the cage in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In that fight, Eustaquio seemingly had Akhmetov beat when the Kazakh was stunned by a series of up kicks. But the fight was inexplicably paused by referee Yuji Shimada, which allowed Akhmetov to recover and escape with a narrow split-decision victory.

During the rematch, Eustaquio made sure to hurt Akhmetov even more by cancelling his date with his long-time rival and current champion, Adriano Moraes.

Eustaquio’s key to victory was his grappling defense. Ironically, ‘Gravity’ needed to avoid getting pulled down by gravity to overcome his opponent. Akhmetov proved once again that he is the superior wrestler as he successfully completed three takedowns. Eustaquio, however, did not allow the Kazakh to inflict damage once the fight shifted to the ground.

After five grueling rounds, Eustquio claimed the right to be called a world champion and be hailed as Team Lakay’s new franchise guy. If we will pay close attention, however, Team Lakay is not defined by franchise guys and breakout stars. They are defined by their culture of winning and excellence.
(more…)

Holly Holm: The Superstar That Never Was

holly holm 3

Will Holly Holm Reach the Zenith of MMA Glory Again?

15978049_1337911692938883_4242840183662180368_n

Before facing Ronda Rousey in the main event of UFC 193, Holly Holm was unknown to most MMA fans back in 2015. Fight junkies saw Holm as just another girl that Rousey would beat up or maybe – and more likely – submit via her signature armbar.

During the weigh-ins, in a packed Etihad Stadium, in Melbourne, Australia, Holm came out first, donning a black zip up hoodie that she removed as she stepped onto the scale. After a few seconds, Joe Rogan enthusiastically yelled, “134 for the challenger!”, confirming that Holm had made the required weight.

Holm’s blank face turned into a subtle smile as she walked off the scale and approached UFC President Dana White to shake his hand. What followed was a loud pop from the Australian crowd when Rogan announced that Rousey is next to step onto the weighing scale. Based on the crowd’s reaction, even a blind person would be able to identify who the star of the event was.

Rousey wasted no time; she unzipped her Reebok hoodie, dropped her track pants, and straight to the scale she went. Rogan announced that she too is at 134 pounds. Rousey – using her intimidation tactics – went trudging down from the scale, past White, and in front of Holm’s face as if she wanted the fight to happen a day earlier.

But Holm is no pushover, she would not let Rousey impose her dominance. The challenger shifted to her southpaw stance. And as White was trying to separate the two women to stop them from hurting each other – before they are allowed to actually hurt each other – Holm’s right fist grazed Rousey on her left jaw.

The oohs were very much audible from the Aussie crowd from watching the sequence of mild tension, as if they were saying, “This Holm chick’s gonna have her ass whooped.”

holly holm 2

Slaying the Legend

When Holly’s left foot connected with the champion’s jaw, everybody lost their minds. For the first time, Rousey looked like a mortal in the Octagon; the place where she turned herself into a goddess in everyone’s eyes. Everyone’s except for Holm’s.

After a first round in which Rousey was outclassed by the challenger, something unexpected was witnessed by the whole world. In the 4:03 mark of the second round, referee Herb Dean was forced to stop the fight, marking the end of Rousey’s reign.
(more…)

The Morning After: Three Things We Learned from UFC 218

UFC 218 Holloway Aldo 2

Holloway, Ngannou, and Alvarez Take Center Stage at UFC 218

15978049_1337911692938883_4242840183662180368_n

UFC 218 is officially in the history books, and fight fans were gifted with an early Christmas present in the form of three exhilarating bouts that delivered jaw-dropping highlights to open the month of December.

Fireworks were on display in Detroit, Michigan, as the legitimate top guys separated themselves from the middle-tier fighters to end their 2017 with a bang. That said, let’s break this event down as we bring you three talking points from UFC 218.

Hawaii’s got a new ‘Prodigy’

UFC 218 Holloway Aldo

Max “Blessed” Holloway put on a clinic for almost 15 minutes as he picked apart José Aldo with sharp jabs for three rounds. Aldo’s bloodied and battered face sums up the story of the fight; Max was able to utilize his four-inch height advantage and the Brazilian didn’t have an answer.

Holloway is Hawaii’s new crowned jewel. And although not as explosive as fellow Hawaiian striker BJ Penn, Holloway proved that he can be as dominant if not more.

Let’s give credit to the former featherweight champion, though. He took the fight on a short notice against the man who already took him out the last time he set foot inside the Octagon. The 31-year-old replaced Frankie Edgar who had to pull out due to a fractured orbital.

Aldo fought smarter and more economic, utilizing his famous leg kicks as his main tool of attack. Conditioning is in Holloway’s favor, however, as the Hawaiian showed no signs of fatigue and dullness to his strikes.

The champion executed his plan to perfection. “My trainers said, ‘Let’s take him to deep water.’ We know he can’t swim there and we were gonna drown him,” Holloway revealed during the post-fight interview.
(more…)