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A near-capacity Qingdao Sports Center stadium witnessed REBEL FC’s inaugural Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event, THE PROMISED ONES on the night of 27 June, and the reception was rousing to say the least. Many in the audience seemed to be experiencing the grappling aspect of combat sports for the first time judging from the gasps, amazement and occasional bewilderment when the fighters decide to spend a good amount of time rolling and twisting around one another in a deadly embrace.

Since his REBEL FC debut in 2013 as an amateur fighter, Suman Mokhtarian has now blossomed into a polished fighter in his professional debut with THE PROMISED ONES. In his Undercard bout against Chinese favourite Bao Yin Na, Suman found himself in compromising positions many times but always found a way to break free from Bao’s strong strikes and choke attempts. In Round 2, Suman was caught in a triangle choke and then an armbar, but his never-say-die spirit saw him escaping the submission attempts as well as dishing out punishment of his own. Suman eventually won his bout via decision.

Suman’s elder brother Ashkan came up against Bao’s equally formidable countryman Yao Hong Gang in the Main Card. Yao was initially in control with firm strikes and powerful takedowns, but Ashkan survived the storm and turned the tables with a flying knee that connected. Ashkan followed that stunner with an armbar and then a headlock but Yao’s grappling skills allowed him to survive the comeback. In Round 2, Ashkan turned on the heat and eventually submitted Yao with a leglock.

The third bout of the night was the Battle Royale semi-final where Brazilian-born Japanese resident Kleber Koike submitted Takahiro Ashida – who was a defeated quarter-finalist in REBEL FC’s Battle Royale and called up to replace the injured Michael Tobin for this year’s semis – gave the latter a rude shock with a combination of powerful strikes and aggressive grappling. Ashida was out for the count midway through Round 1 when Kleber submitted him with a triangle choke.

Song Ke Nan, one of the top-billed Chinese fighters in THE PROMISED ONES, was just as decisive as Kleber in the Main Card, beating his compatriot via submission in Round 1. Song Ke Nan’s fellow countryman Qing Ge Le did not fare so well. He lost via submission to “The Korean Sniper”, Sungwon Son in Round 1 too.

The sixth fight of the night was the most bizarre. Eric Michael Fought spent almost the entire bout against his fellow American, former Strike Force combatant, Joe Ray, moving in an awkward bob-and-weave manner and making little attempt to guard against Ray’s kicks and punches. It came as no surprise when Ray was the winner, albeit a unanimous decision.

The Battle Royale Grand Final was arguably the most entertaining and intense match of Fight Night. Kleber, who had to fight one match more than Miguel Torres – who was given a bye because of his opponent Will Chope’s disqualification for not making weight – went in aggressively on Torres the moment the first round commenced, landing forceful kicks and punches on Torres.

As both men were BJJ specialists, the fight soon went to ground. Throughout their fight, both had chances to mount and finish, but their BJJ expertise enabled them to wriggle free. Their artful guard and mount routines had the Chinese crowd in awe before Torres eventually tapped out in Round 2 when Kleber applied a guillotine choke to become REBEL FC’s first featherweight champion. An icon was defeated and a legend is born.

The Main Event pitting Qingdao-born hero Liu Wen Bo against Kazakh Adil Boranbayev was a highly tactical affair, with Adil constantly trying to stay out of Liu’s range of attacks and countering when he saw an opening. The final result was a draw, with one judge in favour of Liu, one in favour of Boranbayev and the last calling it a tie. Liu Wen Bo was adamant he won and that Boranbayev “fought like a ‘child”.

fight match-up

Suman Mokhtarian (Australia) defeated Bao Yin Na (China)

Round 1, Decision

Ashkan Mokhtarian (Australia) defeated Yao Hong Gang (China)

Round 2, Submission


Kleber Koike (Brazil) defeated Takahiro Ashida (Japan)

Round 1, Submission

Will Chope (United States) vs Miguel Torres (United States)

Fight Bout canceled due to weight requirement not met


Song Ke Nan (China) defeated Makshati Sailik (China)

Round 1, Submission 


Sungwon Son (South Korea) defeated Qing Ge Le (China)

Round 1, Submission


Joe Ray (United States) defeated Eric Michael Fought (United States)

Unanimous decision

Kleber Koike (Brazil) defeated Miguel Torres (United States)

Round 2, Submission

Adil Boranbayev (Kazakhstan) vs Liu Wen Bo (China)