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Magomed Ankalaev could have chosen to cruise, but instead decided to put a stamp on an already dominant performance and in doing so, continued to show himself to be a serious problem at light heavyweight.
Ankalaev (12-1) was well on his way to a lopsided win over Dalcha Lungiambula (10-2), including a likely 10-8 second round which he spent mauling the South African with punches and elbows from half-guard. Ankalaev might have been forgiven for guarding his lead against a dangerous foe who needed a finish in order to win, and in fact he gave ground as Lungiambula came forward to open the final round, only to uncork a left head kick that landed, unseen and unblocked, on Lungiambula’s chin. Lungiambula crumpled instantly and referee Marc Goddard sprang in to stave off any unnecessary punishment, giving Ankalaev the knockout at 29 seconds.
With the sensational UFC Moscow performance, Ankalaev goes to 3-1 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, with the only blemish coming at the hands — legs, really — of Paul Craig, with one second left in a fight he had been winning. In a light heavyweight division clamoring for new blood, the 27-year-old is emerging at a very opportune time.
Khabilov Grinds to Victory Over Khandozhko
In a grueling affair characterized by seemingly endless sequences of clinching against the fence, Rustam Khabilov took an unanimous decision over Sergey Khandozhko. Most of the fight consisted of Khabilov’s determined attempts to bring the fight to the floor, and Khandozhko’s efforts to prevent him from doing so. The most decisive round was the third, where Khabilov landed a takedown in the middle of the cage and set to work from Khandozhko’s full guard, doing just enough work to stave off a referee standup.
After fifteen difficult minutes, the judges awarded the fight to Khabilov via scorecards of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28, sending his record to 24-4 and getting him back on track after his six-fight UFC win streak was derailed by Diego Ferreira earlier this year. Khandozhko (26-6-1) sees his own three-fight win streak snapped.
Roberson Dominates Kopylov
Karl Roberson served up a thoroughly dominant performance, chopping away at the lead leg of formerly undefeated middleweight prospect Roman Kopylov for over two and a half rounds before choking him out in the third.
The story of the fight was Roberson’s vicious low kicks, which he landed constantly, leaving the Russian prospect clearly favoring his right leg by halfway through the fight. Roberson appeared to be well on his way to a clear-cut decision victory when, midway through the final round, Kopylov’s outstretched finger opened a severe cut on the right eyelid of “Baby K.” The cut immediately began to bleed profusely, and the cageside doctor took his time in examining it before allowing the fight to go on. When the action was restarted, Kopylov attempted to capitalize, attacking with renewed urgency on the feet, but Roberson landed a takedown, took Kopylov’s back and secured a rear-naked choke for the tap at 4:01.
With the resounding win, Roberson goes to 4-2 in the UFC (9-2 overall), while Kopylov’s first career setback leaves him at 8-1.
Zawada Throttles Nurmagomedov
David Zawada quieted the Moscow crowd, stunned a highly touted prospect and secured his first UFC victory, as he forced Abubakar Nurmagomedov to tap to a first-round armbar in their welterweight prelim bout.
Former Professional Fighters League veteran Nurmagomedov, cousin of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, struck for a takedown early. Zawada calmly regained full guard and threw his legs up for a triangle. As Nurmagomedov struggled, Zawada threatened with a triangle armbar, then switched back to the choke, eliciting the tap at 2:50 of the first round.
The win sends former KSW star Zawada to 17-5 (1-2 UFC), while Nurmagomedov falls to 15-3-1.
Roosevelt Roberts Spoils Yakovlev’s Lightweight Debut
Former welterweight Alexander Yakovlev’s move to lightweight did not go as he had hoped, as Roosevelt Roberts employed better wrestling, solid grappling and some stinging punching combinations to take two of three rounds. Yakovlev’s best moments came in the middle round, as he secured a takedown early and threatened with ground-and-pound and a brabo choke attempt. However, Roberts resumed control of the fight in the third, possibly aided by the Russian’s flagging cardio.
The win sends Dana White's Contender Series alum Roberts to 10-1 in his young career, 4-1 in the UFC, and cements the 25-year-old as a person of interest in the lightweight division. In dropping his UFC debut, Yakovlev falls to 25-11-1 overall.
Kianzad Turns Away Clark
In a rematch of their 2015 meeting under the Invicta FC banner, Pannie Kianzad used superior boxing to take a clear-cut unanimous decision (30-27 x3) over Jessica-Rose Clark. The fight was contested entirely on the feet, where Kianzad’s crisp combinations and heavier punches marked up the face of “Jessy Jess” as she outlanded her in all three frames. All three rounds were competitive, but “Banzai” appeared to be a step ahead throughout.
With the victory, Kianzad (12-5) goes to 2-0 against Clark and, more importantly, secures her first UFC win after two unsuccessful attempts, while Clark (9-6) falls to 2-2 within the promotion.
Grant Outworks Popov
In the opening bout of the evening, “Dangerous” Davey Grant (11-4) used long kicks, a high workrate and savvy defense on the ground to edge out Grigory Popov (13-4) in an entertaining bantamweight match. Grant’s spinning back kicks to the legs and body, as well as constant stance switches, had the Russian off balance for much of the first two rounds. Popov had his moments of offense as well, in particular with a kimura-to-armbar transition in the second round.
The judges awarded the fight to Grant by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29), giving the oft-injured Brit his first UFC win since February 2016. Meanwhile, Popov moves to 0-2 with the promotion since being called up from the Russian and Chinese regionals.