If there is one thing the third quarter of 2018 has given Malaysian martial arts fans, it is belief.
The nation’s leading athletes were well represented in the five ONE Championship shows spanning July to September 2018, and with the fourth quarter of the year nearing, these athletes are hungry for another victory.
Jihin “Shadow Cat” Radzuan
ONE returned to Kuala Lumpur on 13 July with ONE: PURSUIT OF POWER, and all eyes were on Radzuan following her impressive debut victory in March.
She met a high-level opponent in Indonesia’s Priscilla “Thathie” Hertati Lumban Gaol, who entered the cage boasting an impressive three-match winning streak.
Radzuan looked nervous at the start of the contest, and it did not take long for her 30-year-old rival to take the initiative. She attacked with huge side kicks, although they did not seem to bother the Malaysian.
“Shadow Cat” defended the strikes well, pressing forward into a clinch, and “Thathie’s” attempt to throw her unbeaten foe was countered expertly. Radzuan came close with a rear-naked choke attempt, and then dominated the action for the rest of the round. The sound of the bell was Lumban Gaol’s only respite.
Round two was a more fiery encounter, as both competitors came out intent on landing the first strike.
The Indonesian connected with some accurate front kicks, which appeared to momentarily take the wind out of her rival’s sails, but Radzuan followed the blueprint from the opening frame, closing the distance to score with a takedown.
“Shadow Cat” once again turned the tables, almost locking out an armbar, but Lumban Gaol’s strength and courage ensured she also survived the second round.
The third was significantly different, as Radzuan’s combination of grappling, striking, and superior ground control prevailed en route to cementing her third career victory.
With ONE Championship returning to Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena on 7 December, Malaysians could expect a young and passionate “Shadow Cat” to return in front of her compatriots.
Keanu Subba took home the second win for team Malaysia on the same night, bagging a submission victory against experienced Chinese featherweight Xie Chao after 3:33 of round one.
The win marked a successful comeback for Subba, who battled a niggling injury throughout the first quarter of the year.
Leading up to the match, the 24-year-old told the press that he’d never felt better, and his dominant display showcased a hungry yet humble athlete.
He has been rewarded handsomely for that impressive performance. He will meet undefeated Myanmar knockout specialist Phoe “Bushido” Thaw (6-0) at ONE: PURSUIT OF GREATNESS in his hometown of Yangon this Friday.
A win for Subba will see him maintain a perfect year, with two victories from his two battles.
Alongside Subba and Radzuan, quarter three belonged to the athlete dubbed “Jungle Cat.”
Aiman pulled off his most impressive ONE victory to date, as he out-worked China’s “Rock Man” Chen Lei (8-1) en route to his first finish in The Home of Martial Arts.
Chen controlled the early exchanges, forcing Aiman to work off his back on the ground, but “Jungle Cat” patiently defended the aggressive takedowns in round two, before capitalizing on a failed attempt.
The Malaysian bantamweight martial artist advanced to his opponent’s back, sinking in the choke and handing “Rock Man” his first career defeat.
That victory has lined Aiman up with another tough competitor at ONE: HEART OF THE LION early next month.
He will go toe-to-toe with Japan’s Shuya “Stealth” Kamikubo at Singapore Indoor Stadium and, just like Radzuan and Subba, his eyes will be set on maintaining his perfect 2018 record.