The capacity crowd cheered as two men locked horns inside the ONE FC cage. At stake was the opportunity to further their careers and to get a shot at the ONE FC featherweight championship. The action went back and forth. It was captivating for the live audience and fans all around the world. So much was happening in such a short amount of time.

Blood had spilled, and lots of it. Tears were shed not for physical pain, but for emotional anguish—those are the toughest kind of tears.

Lisita (L) (ONE FC)

Lisita (L) (ONE FC)

Eric Kelly and Rob Lisita had given it their all. So when Kelly was able to lock in a rear-naked choke to secure his victory in the second round, both men were spent.

As the realization of suffering a loss hit, Lisita remained there on his knees. It was over. Kelly’s blood began to mix with his own sweat and make its way down Lisita’s face to his mouth. But it wasn’t blood that he could taste. It was defeat. And it tasted like shit.

“To be honest, I started thinking of all the haters and how happy they would have been to see me go to sleep,” Lisita confessed to The MMA Corner. “It’s crazy because I should’ve thought about twisting out and giving up mount and getting back to where I wanted to be. My pride was crushed. I sacrifice so much being away from my family and couldn’t bring them home all that I could have.

“I can’t sleep. It’s not a want—I need to fight again. I need to redeem myself to be able to look myself in the mirror with pride. The next guy is gonna suffer. I’m gonna train harder than ever. I’m just gonna put my head down, bum up and work so that never happens again.”

With a world title shot at stake in his July 11 bout with Kelly, it was set to be the chance that the Phuket-based Australian had been waiting years for. It was the opportunity to finally be recognized as one of the best featherweights in the world. To have that taken away from him, well, it was a painful feeling to say the least.

“I always knew what was at stake,” Lisita explained. “Maybe that’s what made me have a massive adrenaline dump as soon as the fight got going. I couldn’t take a deep breath, and that was nowhere near what I’m capable of. You know me, I don’t care about rankings. I don’t care about belts. I just love to fight, but after that [loss] I wanna fight today. I was ready to fight him again when we were getting checked by the doctors after the fight. I know he wasn’t—he went to the hospital. I went and sat depressed in my room. I wasn’t going to the after-party after that.”

When a fighter is as vocal as Lisita, a loss will often draw criticism from fans and skeptics alike. As soon as the harsh reality had set in, Lisita was expecting the absolute worst from all those who have said he’d never make it. Nothing ever came, though.

“Honestly, I haven’t heard one negative comment,” Lisita said. “All the people that were on his side wrote to me to say how much of a warrior they think I am. It’s funny, but I seem to have motivated more people in defeat than when I win. I guess they realized I may be a beast, but I’m just a man like everyone else.”

Eric Kelly (rear) submits Lisita (ONE FC)

Eric Kelly (rear) submits Lisita (ONE FC)

With no booking in sight, Lisita now waits to see what is in store for him. After putting on an entertaining display yet again, it’s only going to be a matter of time until ONE FC matches him up with another opponent. Lisita now finds himself counting down the days until he knows when he’ll fight again.

“All I will do now is keep begging Matt Hume for a fight,” Lisita admitted. “I have no injuries. I’m with my family, so my mind is refreshed. If there are any fans that enjoy the way I fight and wanna see me again, I’d be grateful if they let ONE FC know. I just wanna fight again so much.”

On July 11, blood was spilled. Tears formed as a fighter realized that all the hard work leading up to the fight had amounted to what could be best described as nothing. The truth is, fighters lose fights. That’s something that comes with the job description. With his fight now behind him, all that is left is for Lisita to pick up the pieces. He will fight another day. And he certainly wants to ensure that the taste of defeat never enters his mouth again.

Rob would like to thank Haleo (David Halton), Pokerstars.net, Phuket Top Team, Boyd Clarke aka Coach Roach, Musclebar (Charlie and Sandor), Unit 27 (Rob and Dayle Hallam), Phuket Pro Nutrition and Vicious Circle. He would also like to thank Team Lisita, who, he adds, “have made this situation a lot better.” Follow Lisita on Twitter: @robertlisita
  • Hitman

    Phuket dreaming is a great vblog on this legend