Even without an Ultimate Fighting Championship or Bellator MMA event May 4-6, there was plenty of entertainment for MMA-hungry fans, with shows taking place across five continents. Here are the five best highlights from the weekend that was:
NO VACANCY … Invicta Fighting Championships 29 on May 4 saw Sarah Kaufman overcome German prospect Katharina Lehner to claim the promotion’s vacant bantamweight title. The game Lehner proved to be no match for the decorated Canadian. The inevitable came at the 4:30 mark of the third round, where, after some sustained ground-and-pound, the newly crowned champion cinched a rear-naked. Kaufman’s 20th professional victory was her first by submission. Her opponent dropped to 7-1.
GONE IN 9 SECONDS … Two fighters familiar to stateside fans went head-to-head in the Rizin Fighting Federation 10 main event on May 6 in Fukuoka, Japan. A highly anticipated matchup between onetime UFC flyweight title challenger Kyoji Horiguchi and Ian McCall lasted all of nine seconds. A straight left from McCall was countered by a thunderous Horiguchi left hook to the head that dropped the American to the seat of his pants and forced the referee to intervene to prevent further punishment. The brick-fisted Horiguchi now finds himself on a nine-fight winning streak. As for “Uncle Creepy,” he has lost three in a row for the first time in his career.
HEAD SHOT … Daron Cruickshank knocked out Shooto 154-pound champion Koshi Matsumoto with a highlight-reel left kick to the jaw on the Rizin 10 undercard. When Matsumoto backed out of a clinch, “The Detroit Superstar” threw a roundhouse kick upstairs that left the dazed Japanese fighter to languish on the canvas. It was a much-needed win for Cruickshank, who put a stop to a two-fight skid 3:50 into the first round.
HEAVYWEIGHT VOLATILITY … Russian Cagefighting Championship 2 on May 5 in Yekaterinburg, Russia, saw Aleksander Emelianenko square off with former UFC heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga. A longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Gonzaga lived to regret his inability to capitalize on a sustained period in top position late in the first round. In the middle stanza, Emelianenko cut loose with a barrage of punches and dropped Gonzaga to all fours with a fight-ending knee. The resurgent Russian has rattled off four consecutive wins since he was released from prison. Gonzaga has lost five of his last six.
NO WASTED EFFORT … Ian Heinisch dispatched Gabriel Checco with punches 3:44 into the first round to capture the vacant Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight championship at LFA 39 on May 4 in Vail, Colorado. The finish resulted from an overhand right, as Heinisch improved to 10-1. Knocked out for the first time in his career, Checco fell to 10-3.