|Nguyễn Trần Duy Nhất struggles to stop Lê Văn Tuấn locking in a rear naked choke in the first round of the Lion Championship MMA quarter-finals. Duy Nhất rallied in the second round, winning via knockout. Photo news.zing.vn
HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Trần Duy Nhất, SEA and World Games' Muay Thai gold medalist, survived a first-round scare to secure his second mixed martial arts (MMA) victory at the quarter-finals of Lion Championship 2022, Việt Nam's first licensed MMA tournament.
Just 20 seconds into the first-round Nhất, 33, checked a low kick slightly too late and, off balance, was dropped to the mat by the right hand of Lê Văn Tuấn, 28.
Sensing blood and the chance of an upset, Tuấn jumped into full mount and unleashed a ground-and-pound flurry of fists and elbows. Nhất, having never found himself in this situation in a professional fight before, tried to struggle to his feet, taking a series of shots to the head for his troubles.
The referee Ngô Viết Phú kept a very close eye on Nhất and almost called the fight there and then, but after 20 seconds, Nhất found his footing. However, in doing so he gave up his back to Tuấn, who dragged him back down.
Tuấn began working for a rear naked choke, safe in the knowledge there were still more than four minutes left on the clock.
Duy Nhất, who only began training Brazillian Jiu Jitsu last year, worked hard to escape the body triangle that Tuấn had him wrapped in.
With three and a half minutes left to go in the round, Tuấn had Nhất flattened out on the mat, rear naked choke locked in deep.
Just as the ref looked ready to jump in, Nhất gave him a thumbs up, letting him know he was still conscious and fighting back, despite the strained look on his face.
Nhất managed to gain control of Tuấn's right arm again, allowing Tuấn's left arm to maintain pressure on his neck in return for not allowing the choke to be complete, giving the ref another thumbs up in the process.
With just over two minutes left on the clock, Nhất began reverse hammerfists to the face of Tuấn, his first registered shots of the bout. Although lacking in power, they provided just enough wiggle room for him to trap Tuấn's right arm under his elbow.
Realising the choke was lost, Tuấn was forced to change tact with 30 seconds left in the round, transitioning back into full mount. Nhất showed great awareness to pin Tuấn's right arm and reverse the mount, finishing the round on top of his opponent.
The two fighters exchanged kicks as the second round opened; Nhất going high and landing, Tuấn going low and missing.
The first minute was cagey, but as the fighters closed the distance, Tuấn whipped in a withering left hook. Nhất slipped to the side and countered with a thunderous cross that landed flush on Tuấn's chin, sending him down in a heap.
A couple of viscous hammerfists later and Nhất was wheeling away in victory, having snatched the win from the jaws of defeat.
In the other quarter-final bouts, Phạm Bá Hợi secured a second-round knockout of Phạm Ngọc Cảnh in the 56kg class, while Trịnh Xuân Anh got a first-round submission win over Dỗ Phúc Hậu in the 65kg class.
Xuân Anh's victory rounded off a great weekend for Vietnam Top Team, with victories for Bernard Tiffany (52kg, round two, standing guillotine submission), Phạm Văn Nam (56kg, decision), Nguyễn Cát Tùng (70kg, round two, rear naked choke submission), and Kamil Michael Nguyễn Văn (70kg, round one, knock out).
The semi-finals of Lion Championship 2022 return on October 22-23, while the finals will be held on Phú Quốc Island in January 2023. — VNS