RAHUL RAJU SCORED A second round submission victory over Pakistani opponent Furqan Cheema at "ONE Championship: Edge of Greatness."
Rahul "The Kerala Crusher" Raju was originally supposed to face a different Pakistani fighter in ONE Championship's Lightweight Division (77 kg, 170 lb) named Ahmed Mujtaba but ahead of the event Mujtaba withdrew from the bout. Furqan stepped in on short notice to replace Mujtaba; and the fight took place at a catchweight of 80 kg.
Cheema came in with an undefeated 3-0 record in professional MMA but this was his first fight at a major organization like ONE and immediately he found himself struggling against the agility and versatility of Rahul.
Early in the fight Rahul asserted control by shooting on Cheema and pressing him hard against the ropes; wearing him out even before the latter had the opportunity to get into his rhythm.
Cheema for his part refused to let Rahul complete the takedown and eventually broke free, forcing Rahul to retreat with wild swinging punches. But seconds later Rahul shot for a double leg and this time completed the takedown. Frustrated, Cheema tried to grab the ring ropes in an effort to get back up; a maneuvre against the rules of the bout. The referee warned him the first time and showed him a yellow card with a stern warning the second time.
In the second round, Rahul took his time to control Cheema's movements with feint and jabs. Eventually, he was able to force Cheema to retreat to a corner. Once he had Cheema where he wanted he went for a double leg takedown and got it rather effortlessly. It was clear that Cheema was exhausted at this point; allowing Rahul to take the back and sink in a deadly rear naked choke that ended the fight.
You can watch the entire fight right here...
The loss took Cheema's professional MMA record to 3-1 while Rahul progressed to 7-4; and he's on a two fight win streak in ONE Championship, and both fights came by way of submission to a rear naked choke.
Rahul's win also sums up a great streak for Indian fighters in ONE Championship. After Roshan Mainam Luwang submitted his opponent and Ritu Phogat knocked out hers in the last two ONE flagship events, Rahul's win constitutes the very first hat-trick of back to back finishes by Indian fighters in ONE Championship; a major milestone considering ONE Championship's global reach and their status as one of the biggest promotions in the world of martial arts.