Rasul Yakhyaev shocked the Thai fans in attendance when he scored an impressive unanimous decision victory against Shannon Wiratchai at ONE: Warriors of the World in Bangkok, Thailand.
Yakhyaev, who has over a decade of experience in jiu-jitsu and combat sambo, was expected to take this contest down to the mat as soon as possible and limit Wiratchai’s striking ability. But instead, the Russian proved to be a surprisingly dangerous counter-puncher and smoothly picked apart Wiratchai for three rounds.[srizonfbvidsingle id=1645152955507953]
“One Shin” Wiratchai seemed hesitant to engage with Yakhyaev, who was precisely answering with a right-hand counter punch every time he attempted a kick. As a result, the contest slowed to a standstill and the crowd grew restless with the lack of inactivity. Not one for waiting around, referee Yuji Shimada revealed a yellow card to each fighter for timidity. Wiratchai and Yakhyaev were aware of the pacing of the contest and touched gloves in a sign of respect.
However, Shimada’s intervention didn’t change the flow of the contest. Wiratchai struggled to open up with his striking and Yakhyaev, who was careful of Wiratchai’s power, was also hesitant to shoot in for a takedown.
In the dying moments of the contest, Wiratchai seemingly needed to increase his intensity. The Thai martial artist definitely picked up his pace, but the judges didn’t feel like it was enough to influence the scorecards. All three judges scored the contest in favor of Yakhyaev, who snapped his three-fight losing streak.
As for now, Rasul Yakhyaev seems to have scored himself a date with ONE Championship lightweight champion Martin Nguyen, considering that this contest was billed as a title eliminator. However, the organization might not be so fast to award the Russian with the opportunity considering the relatively dull fifteen-minutes of action, especially since exciting lightweight fighter Amir Khan is waiting for his shot at the title.
On the other hand, Shannon Wiratchai was defeated for the first time since April 2013. His impressive run of six consecutive victories, which included five stoppages, came to a halt at the worst of moments as he was just within reach of a shot at the ONE Lightweight World Championship.
Speaking to The Body Lock after ONE: Warriors of the World, Wiratchai explained that he was hesitant because of Yakhyaev’s timing with the right-hand counter.
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.