Istela Nunes got back into the win column at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS thanks to an impressive display of Muay Thai striking.
On Saturday, 7 July, Nunes returned to redeem herself after her first mixed martial arts career defeat by claiming a unanimous decision victory over Gina “Conviction” Iniong at ONE: BATTLE FOR THE HEAVENS in Guangzhou, China.
The fans at the Guangzhou Tianhe Gymnasium witnessed a clash of two of the top athletes in the atomweight division, where a win for either woman would propel them towards top-contender status.
Nunes has faced only the best since arriving in ONE, defeating Mei Yamaguchi in her debut but losing her World Title challenge against Angela Lee. Meanwhile, Iniong has also have faced stiff competition in recent months – winning against Jenny Huang in April after facing Yamaguchi last November.
The ground game a point of emphasis recently at Team Lakay, and Iniong looked to put those skills to work early. However, Nunes, a two-time Muay Thai World Champion, was determined to keep the contest on their feet and fended off the Filipina’s early takedown attempts.
An accidental slip by Iniong almost had her in trouble, but she quickly recovered and landed a solid right hand to drop Nunes toward the end of the round.
In the second round, both competitors took a more cautious approach as they probed each other’s striking prowess. The Brazilian’s reach advantage proved to be a challenge for the Baguio City native, but a sense of urgency gripped Iniong at the end of the round, and she charged forward on a couple of occasions in an attempt to leave an impression on the judges’ minds.
Iniong looked to build on her momentum in the final stanza, but couldn’t take the match to the ground despite her best efforts. Instead, she experienced a kicking clinic from the 25-year-old Rio De Janeiro native, as Nunes unleashed lightning-quick knees and kicks that visibly damaged Iniong.
The striking showcase was punctuated by a jumping roundhouse kick at the end of the round, which acted as an exclamation mark on the Brazilian’s display as the bell sounded to signal the end of the bout.
In the end, the judges all agreed that the bout was won by Nunes, who raised her record to 7-1. Meanwhile, Iniong’s falls to 7-4, despite a competitive performance against one of the world’s best atomweight athletes.