IN A DOMINANT FASHION, Roshan Mainam earned a resounding victory on his ONE Championship debut, submitting Cambodia's Khon Sichan in the very first round at "ONE: Masters of Fate" in Manila, Philippines today.
Speaking exclusively to TFG after the bout, the 23 year old laid out his plans for his early run in the promotion's Flyweight (61 kg, 135 pounds) division.
The fight - the first of the prelim bouts - began with a 40 second feeling-out process between the two fighters where neither made contact. As Roshan Mainam feinted and moved his head in the southpaw stance, while Sichan in the orthodox stance slowly inched closer, steering them towards the corner of the ring.
But it was Roshan who struck first, with a low leg kick. Sichan hobbled back momentarily and was forced to consider the power behind it; and it was the perfect way to set up the double leg takedown that Roshan followed up with.
Now the fight was on the mat, in Roshan's world. From Sichan's half guard he worked himself into side control. Then with one swing of the right leg he got the top position and unleashed some ground-and-pound.
Sichan tried to hold him in the guard but Roshan proved to be the stronger man, regularly making space for himself to drop an elbow or two until he got hold of Sichan's left arm and twisted it for a quick submission.
The whole fight took 3 minutes and 22 seconds, and Roshan, taking on an accomplished striker, didn't take a single hit. It was a clean victory, and a strong announcement of his arrival in the ONE Flyweight Division.
The win took his professional MMA record to 4-2. You can watch his fight, and rest of the prelim bouts, right here...
Speaking to TFG after his victory, however, Roshan was careful not to read too much into his first fight at ONE Championship,
"It's a very strong and deep division. I don't want to think too far ahead."
The four time Delhi State Wrestling Champion has taken his time to ease hismelf into MMA. On top of 10 years of wrestling training, he has been practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jiutsu for the last 4 years, earning himself a blue belt. 8 months ago, he joined Singapore's Evolve MMA where he has been working on his boxing and kickboxing, too.
Roshan said the first thing he wanted to do in ONE Championship was to test his various skills in competition,
"Sichan is a good striker so of course the plan was to take him down and submit him. If he managed to resist that I had plans to finish him through ground-and-pound, too. I was confident of a first round finish... I have been working hard on my striking, but couldn't get to display that tonight. If I fight a good grappler who is hard to finish on the ground it might lead to a long stand-up exchange and hopefully I'll get to show of skill-set too."
For somebody who just had a remarkable win in his first pro MMA bout on a global stage, Roshan sounded unphased by the enormity of the occasion. Instead, he was more interested in the technical details of the performance, and how to improve them,
"Things are very different from practice and actual fight; you may learn a move very well at the gym but it's a whole different situation when you're in the ring. I have been very lucky to be surrounded by some of the very best martial artists at Evolve MMA, and just in the eight months I have spent there they've exposed me to a whole new level of skills. I am learning new things every day and what I'm looking for is an opportunity to test them out in combat. Only then I'll know where I stand in the division."
Looking ahead, Roshan did not want to immediately call out any opponent. But he did have a good idea when he wanted to return to action,
"I am fresh, I want to fight again soon. In the next two months would be good... and when ONE Championship have their event in India, I defenitely would like to be up there."
Roshan Mainam is the first Indian to earn a finish in ONE Championship since Rahul Raju submitted Richard Corminal back in May, and in doing so he maintained an impressive record of finishing every fight that he won.
But it's obvious he is looking for a higher level of competition to measure himself against. Being in a division full of star names like Dimitrius Johnson, Adriano Moraes, Danny Kingad, Yuya Wakamatsu and Gurdarshan Mangat, it appears he's readying himself for a long journey to the top.