Filipino fighter Rolando Dy made good on his promise to his ailing grandfather to return home with the featherweight title following his victory over Yerzhan Yestanov at the UAE Warriors mixed martial arts event in Abu Dhabi.
Dy enjoyed plenty of support from the crowd at Mubadala Arena to score a unanimous decision over the Kazakh on Friday night to take his MMA record to 10-7.
After having his hand raised in victory, Dy broke down in the middle of the octagon as he revealed his promise to grandfather who is on his deathbed at home in the Philippines suffering from liver cancer.
“Before I left home I told my 'Lolo' that I’m going to return with the title belt and to wait for me," said Dy, 27. "I wish he would. I want to be by his side before he breathes his last.”
The large Filipino community who came to cheer their countryman fell silent on hearing the sad news but Dy gave them plenty to cheer about beforehand with a masterful performance over Yestanov.
“I thank the Filipino community here for being behind me tonight,” Dy said. “I was here to prove that we from the Philippines can do it on the big stage and anywhere in the world.”
It was Dy's second win in as many visits to the UAE following his win at the Abu Dhabi Warriors, now rebranded as the UAE Warriors, in January.
The Dy-Yestanov match was the only one of three title matches on the 11-fight card to go the five-round distance.
Dy floored Yestanov twice with two sharp blows to his head in the opening exchanges but the Kazakh was quickly back to his feet and battled gamely despite bleeding from his nose.
Yestanov attempted to use his wrestling prowess to ground his opponent but Dy managed to evade any real punishment to take the verdict by a unanimous decision.
Syria's Tarek Suleiman successfully defended his light-heavyweight belt against Britain's Oli Thompson with a second-round stoppage.
“This as an important result for me and my country,” Suleiman said. “I had only one goal tonight and that was to win. The Syrian people are smart and they have a big heart, and we welcome the whole world to embrace us.”
Amin Ayoub clinched the welterweight title after he locked in a first-round arm bar on Ahmed Labban to force his Lebanese opponent to tap out.
Emirati fighter Ahmed Al Darmaki suffered a first-round defeat to Azouz Anwar in their featherweight bout after the Egyptian forced his opponent to submit via a choke hold.
Another featherweight, Jaures Dea, of Cameroon took just 35 seconds to stop Russia's Magomed Abdurakhimov while Australian bantamweight Trent Girdham outclassed Brazil's Fabio Mello.
Brazilians Bruno Machado and Juscelino Ferreira emerged winners over Russia's Yurii Gryschenko and Egypt's Ibrahim El Sawi respectively in their lightweight and light heavyweight contests.
Youssef Wehbe shocked Brazilian Leandro Martins to take a unanimous decision in their lightweight encounter while Moroccan Hamza Bougamza got the better of Will Aranguiz of Chile (bantamweight) and American Dwight Brooks beat Suraj Bahadur of India (lightweight).