Hometown hero Shannon “OneShin” Wiratchai was perfectly placed to earn a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
However, his plans were laid to waste. Rasul Yakhyaev used forward motion and solid striking to defeat the local favorite via unanimous decision at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, which aired live from the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday, 9 December.
“OneShin” appeared tentative from the opening bell, standing flat-footed in front of the hard hitting Chechen. Frequent hand movement from the Bangkok Fight Lab product kept Yakhyaev at bay, and the lack of action prompted referee Yuji Shimada to warn both men to pick up the pace.
Yakyahev obliged with a tight rear-naked choke as the round expired, saving Wiratchai in the nick of time.
The surging Chechen kept the gas on in round two, tagging Wiratchai with an overhand right that briefly stunned the 29-year-old. Despite the hard shot, “OneShin” was still slow to action, causing Yuji Shimada to issue the hometown hero with a yellow card.
The penalty temporarily breathed life into Wiratchai, who tagged his Fight Club Berkut rival with a left hand and got the better of an exchange. Yakhyaev ended the second much like the first, going for a takedown. This time, Wiratchai nearly made him pay, narrowly missing a clinch knee heading into the third.
Sensing an upset in sight, the 26-year-old Chechen refused to take a seat between rounds, and stormed in from the bell to put an exclamation point on the effort. Wiratchai threw a roundhouse to get things in gear, and Yakhyaev made him pay for the aggression, driving forward with a takedown attempt.
Another rear-naked choke attempt had the Thai crowd wondering if their hero would go down in defeat. Wiratchai escaped, though, and got the match standing late in the round. With less than a minute left, a sense of urgency kicked in.
Alas, it was too little too late. Wiratchai pressed forward, and was met with a stiff right for his troubles. In the end, the judges rendered a unanimous decision victory to the visiting Yakhyaev.
With the victory, Yakhyaev moves a step closer to title contention with a record of 11-6 (1 NC) record. Wiratchai gets his six-bout win streak snapped, and falls to 8-2 (1 NC).