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A step up to the big show couldn’t stop Jiri Prochazka’s finishing rampage.
The former Rizin Fighting Federation light heavyweight champion scored his ninth consecutive KO/TKO victory, stopping former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night. The end came 49 seconds into Round 2, as Prochazka removed his foe from consciousness with a jab-right hook combination against the fence.
“I want to take a title. That’s my mission here,” Prochazka said. “Not just the title, but I need to work on my performance. Let’s go.”
Mugging and showcasing a variety of unorthodox mannerisms while keeping his hands low, Prochazka (26-4-1 1-0 UFC) absorbed his fair share of punches and low kicks from Oezdemir in Round 1. However, the Czech fighter set the stage for the stoppage when he connected flush with a head kick early in the second stanza. While Oezdemir (17-5, 5-4 UFC) maintained his footing, he was clearly dazed, and Prochazka stalked his stunned foe near the fence until he found the right opening to put “No Time” away.
Salikhov Wins Fourth Straight
Muslim Salikhov won his fourth consecutive UFC bout, earning a closely-contested split decision over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at welterweight. Salikhov received 30-27 and 29-28 scorecards from the cageside judges, while a third saw the fight 29-28 in favor of the Brazilian.
Definitive moments came at a premium in a matchup of flashy strikers. Dos Santos (22-7, 8-3 UFC) enjoyed his fair share of success landing his laser right hand, twice hurting the “King of Kung Fu” in the first 10 minutes. Salikhov (17-2, 4-1 UFC) was able to recover on both occasions, and his ability to pressure and fire back at his opponent with offense of his own ultimately proved to be the difference.
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Amirkhani Puts Henry to Sleep
Makwan Amirkani added another submission win to his highlight reel, tapping out Danny Henry with an anaconda choke in the opening frame of their featherweight bout. Amirkhani earned his 11th professional submission at the 3:15 mark of the period, in the process becoming just the third fighter in UFC history to win two bouts via anaconda choke.
After a few exchanges on the feet, Amirkhani (16-4, 6-2 UFC) secured a body lock takedown behind a flying knee and from there, “Mr. Finland” briefly locked in a modified guillotine choke before transitioning to the fight-ending maneuver. Although Henry (12-4, 2-2 UFC) fought valiantly to defend the squeeze, eventually his arms went limp and the contest was halted.
“I’m pretty slick with this move. There is just no defense for this one,” Amirkhani said.
Santos Tops Bogatov in Foul-Marred Affair
Leonardo Santos nearly finished Roman Bogatov, then survived a trio of fouls in the final stanza to earn a unanimous decision in a lightweight tilt. All three judges submitted 29-26 scorecards in favor of Santos, who was returning to action after more than a year on the sidelines.
The 40-year-old Brazilian had Bogatov reeling in Round 2, when he followed a knee with three devastating right hands. Santos (18-3-1, 7-0-1 UFC) continued to unload with power shots against the fence, forcing his foe to cling desperately to a leg as he absorbed more punches. Eventually, Santos tired himself out from the barrage and Bogatov rallied to end the frame in top position.
Round 3 got ugly, as Bogatov (10-1, 0-1 UFC) twice connected with groin shots, with each one prompting a stoppage and a warning from referee Marc Goddard. The Russian ultimately received a two-point deduction following his third foul -- an illegal knee to the head of a downed Santos against the fence. From there, Santos simply did his best to survive until the final horn.
Tybura Wears Down Grishin
A relentless devotion to the takedown paid off for Marcin Tybura, as he earned a clear-cut unanimous decision against Maxim Grishin in a heavyweight scrap. Two judges scored the fight 30-27 and a third had it 30-26 -- all in favor of Tybura. The Polish veteran has not finished a fight in UFC competition since March 2017.
A methodical approach proved to be effective for Tybura (19-6, 6-5 UFC), who pinned Grishin (30-8-2, 0-1 UFC) against the fence for the majority of the contest’s first 10 minutes. While Grishin defended well from that position, his heavier foe was able to impose his will in Round 3, when he landed a takedown away from the cage with about three minutes left, mounted the Russian and eventually transitioned to back control. The defeat ended a nine-bout unbeaten streak for the Professional Fighters League veteran.
Paiva Spoils Zhumagulov’s UFC Debut
Raulian Paiva spoiled the Octagon debut of former Fight Nights Global champion Zhalgas Zhumagulov, earning a unanimous decision triumph in a flyweight bout. All three cageside judges submitted 29-28 scores in favor of Paiva, who missed weight by three pounds.
The rangier Paiva (20-3, 2-2 UFC) relied on an arsenal of kicks — particularly to the body — to keep his opponent at bay while defending the majority of Zhumagulov’s (13-4, 0-1 UFC) takedown attempts. When the Kazakhstan native did get the fight to the canvas, Paiva was able to return to his feet in relatively short order. All told, Paiva defended nine of his opponent’s 11 takedown tries to earn his second consecutive UFC victory.
Rosa Controls Melo, Takes Decision
Karol Rosa relied on takedowns, top control and clinch work to cruise to a unanimous verdict against fellow Brazilian Vanessa Melo in a bantamweight encounter. All three cagesides judges scored the contest in favor of Rosa: 30-26, 30-26, 30-27. Melo missed weight by five pounds on Friday.
Rosa landed takedowns in each of the first two frames while largely controlling the range with punching combinations on the feet. The Parana Vale Tudo product did her best work in Round 2, when she secured a takedown from the clinch and proceeded to pummel Melo (10-8, 0-3 UFC) with elbows and punches from side control and mount. Melo upped her aggression in the third round, but Rosa (13-3, 2-0 UFC) was able to seal her victory by sucking her adversary into the clinch in the waning moments of the period.
Grant Knocks Day Unconscious
“The Ultimate Fighter 18” cast member Davey Grant earned an emphatic knockout of Martin Day in a bantamweight tilt. The 34-year-old Englishman brought the contest to a close when a left hook landed clean on Day’s chin and knocked him unconscious at the 2:38 mark of Round 3. It was the first finish in six Octagon appearances for Grant (12-4, 3-3 UFC).
Day (8-4, 0-2 UFC) struck the first significant blow of the fight, dropping his foe with a counter right hand halfway through the opening stanza. Grant was able to regain his senses with Day in guard and the fight was competitive from there. Both men exchanged willingly in the final frame, but it appeared that Day was landing more clean shots to the head until Grant struck the decisive blow.
After the victory, Grant revealed that he likely broke his jaw in the fight.