Winning return for ‘Top Gun’


Mark “The Dark” Nuique, top, tries to get out of Andrew “Top Gun” Sablan’s, partly hidden, chokehold in their main event fight last Friday night in Trench Warz 19: No Turning Back at the Royal Taga Hall of the Saipan World Resort. (Jon Perez)

The last time Andrew “Top Gun” Sablan fought inside the eight-Ssdes, Benigno R. Fitial was still the CNMI governor, Beijing, China just hosted it’s first Olympics and then senator Barrack Obama was set to face Republican senator John McCain for the presidency of the United States.

Sablan ended his seven-year retirement on Friday night and made a winning return in Trench Warz 19: No Turning Back at Saipan World Resort’s Royal Taga Hall.

The 29-year-old last fought on Sept. 26, 2008, in Rites of Passage 5: Raging Warriors but showed no signs of rust in completing a first-round win over Mark “The Dark” Nuique in the headliner of a 15-bout roster.

Sablan was sort of in a hurry and only needed less than three minutes in the first round in forcing Nuique to tap out, winning by rear-naked choke against his good friend.

Both fighters sized up each other right after the opening bell with as they waited who will make the first move.

Sablan made the first move and attempted to take down Nuique but the latter managed to foil his opponent’s plan.

Nuique seemed that he wanted to keep the fight standing in the hopes of out-boxing Sablan. Though both of them exchanged blows, Sablan did not stop in trying to take down Nuique, who thwarted several more attempts.

Sablan caught Nuique off guard to take down his foe and bring the fight to the ground. He immediately went to work in trying to force Nuique to submission landing several elbows on the latter’s rib cage.

He then sneaked in a headlock but Nuique survived, wiggled out of trouble, and managed to stand up. That was, however, short lived as Sablan pushed him to the corner and delivered a flurry of punches.

Nuique kept his defense and Sablan, seeing another opportunity, took him down again and completed the win by rear-naked choke forcing his foe to tap out.

Sablan finished the match in 2:47, the official time, to improve to 4-1 with two of his wins by way of knockout.

The former Trench Warz bantamweight champion Nuique, ranked 25th out of 104 active professional flyweight fighters in Southeast Asia according to, dropped his fifth straight bout for an 8-5 record.

Nuique’s last win was against fellow Saipan bet Joe “The Combo” Duenas (3-1) in Rites of Passage 12: Unstoppable more than three years ago.

He won by rear-naked choke submission against Duenas last April 20, 2012, which was part of his eight-fight winning streak.

“It’s fun to win after being out of the fight scene for quite some time. I decided to come out of retirement to just see if I still have what it takes to fight inside the eight-sides,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune.

“I want a rematch, write that down. Next year there will be a rematch,” said Nuique, who was just a stone’s throw away from Sablan, in jest.

Sablan, after the fight, said that he had to hurry back to the Commonwealth Health Center to be with his wife, who just gave birth on Friday night.

“I have to go back to CHC to be with my wife. I just went here to fight since I had a commitment to fulfill for the fight fans and the organizers,” said Sablan. “Good thing Mark and I gave the fans one great fight.”

Asked whether this would be the start of more fights to come or even a title shot, the “Top Gun” did not promise anything.

“We’ll see next year. I’m not yet sure. This was my first fight in years. As for a title match? I think I’m not yet ready. I will just see what they would give me.”

Prior to facing Nuique, Sablan’s last match was against a heftier Martin “Tom Cat” Castro (2-7). He was a last-minute replacement for Leon Fasi but sneaked in a punch that decked the 175-lb Castro to win by KO in 1:43 of the first round.

The results of the undercards of Trench Warz 19: No Turning Back will be reported in tomorrow’s edition of Saipan Tribune.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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