The oddsmakers had little faith in Damir Hadzovic, and for two rounds, they appeared to be right on the money in their assessment. One strike changed everything.
Hadzovic -- a +239 underdog, per BetDSI.com -- knocked out Bellator MMA Season 10 lightweight tournament winner Marcin Held and kept the Polish leg lock ace winless under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner at UFC Fight Night “Gustafsson vs. Teixeira” on Sunday at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. A perfectly timed knee strike did the trick, as Held (-289) packed his bags seven seconds into Round 3.
Held controlled the first 10 minutes and was well ahead on the scorecards at the time of detonation. In fact, two of the three cageside judges awarded him 10-8s for his work in the middle stanza. Held struck for repeated takedowns, floated from full guard and half guard to side control and full mount, made smooth transitions to the back and fished for chokes. At the start of the third round, Hazdovic stepped backward, caught Held rolling for a leg lock and froze him with a front-leg knee to the head for an immediate stoppage.
Hadzovic was not the only underdog to shine in Sweden. Volkan Oezdemir (+335) shook up the light heavyweight division with his stunning finish of Misha Cirkunov in the co-main event. Cirkunov (-485) bowed to a short right hook and follow-up punches 28 seconds into the first round, the momentum of an eight-fight winning streak gone in an instant. It was the Toronto-based Latvian’s first loss in more than five years. Now a significant player at 205 pounds, Oezdemir has rattled off four consecutive victories since he submitted to a Kelly Anundson neck crank in April 2014.
Meanwhile, the Abdul Razak Alhassan (-285) ship ran aground in a split decision defeat to Omari Akhmedov in a three-round welterweight showcase. Judges Mans Nilsson and Andy Roberts struck 30-27 marks for Akhmedov (+220), while Jorgen Segerlind cast a dissenting 29-28 nod for Alhassan. Akhmedov landed takedowns in all three rounds, six in total, and outpaced the previously unbeaten prospect by a wide margin in total strikes. Alhassan had finished each of his first seven opponents inside one round, five of them in less than a minute.
Finally, Arizona Combat Sports middleweight Trevor Smith made the most of his opportunity as a short-notice fill-in for Magnus Cedenblad, cruising to a unanimous decision over Chris Camozzi on the undercard. Scores were 30-27, 30-26 and 30-26. Smith (+120) short-circuited “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 alum with a grinding clinch, a steady diet of takedowns and suffocating top control, consolidating his efforts with damaging ground-and-pound. Camozzi (-150) has lost three fights in a row.