All went according to plan for Fedor Emelianenko.
In his first appearance since June 2012, the former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight king struck an overmatched Jaideep Singh into first-round submission at Rizin Fighting Federation 2 on Thursday at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Singh (2-1) tapped to punches 3:02 into round one.
Emelianenko (35-4) gave the reigning Deep megaton champion no time to relax. The 39-year-old rattled Singh with a volley of power punches, executed a takedown from the rear waist lock and settled in side control. Soon after, Emelianenko climbed to mount, secured his position and uncorked a series of crushing right hands that had the Indian kickboxer asking for a way out. Referee John McCarthy obliged his request.
Lost in the shadow of Emelianenko’s return, former Strikeforce champion Muhammed Lawal delivered a one-punch knockout against Jiri Prochazka to win the eight-man Rizin heavyweight grand prix. Prochazka (16-3-1) -- who forced Vadim Nemkov’s retirement in the semifinals -- went down 5:09 into round one.
Lawal (19-4), who advanced to the final with a unanimous decision over Teodoras Aukstuolis, countered the Czech’s hyperactive kicking game with a takedown roughly two minutes into the bout. He then chipped away at Prochazka with ground-and-pound from inside guard, opening a cut above his left eye with a series of sweeping right hands. The two men returned to their feet after an extended stay on the canvas. Prochazka advanced on “King Mo” in desperation and was met with a beautiful right hook that resulted in a face-plant finish.
The 34-year-old Lawal has recorded seven consecutive victories.
Meanwhile, 2013 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Kron Gracie submitted Erson Yamamoto with a first-round triangle choke in their featured featherweight bout. Yamamoto (0-1) conceded defeat 4:58 into round one.
Gracie (2-0), the youngest son of Brazilian legend Rickson Gracie, was the aggressor in a spirited match. The 27-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt scored with some dirty boxing from the single collar tie before twice dragging Yamamoto to the mat. There, Gracie advanced to full mount, yielded top position and lured the Japanese prospect into his guard, ensnaring him in the triangle choke. Yamamoto tried to free himself with a slam, to no avail.
Elsewhere, two-time K-1 World Max champion Andy Souwer dazzled in his professional MMA debut, as he cut down Yuichiro Nagashima with first-round punches in a lightweight showcase. Nagashima (4-3) met with a violent end 5:28 into round one.
Souwer (1-0) leaned on his trademark leg kicks, weathered a few grappling exchanges and blasted the cosplaying kickboxer with savage stomp-laden ground-and-pound to set up the finish. Back on the feet, Nagashima wilted, as Souwer tore into him with rapid-fire punches to the head and body. A pair of rib-rattling left hooks brought it to a close.
In other action, Estonian sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson (1-0) claimed a unanimous verdict from three-time K-1 World Grand Prix winner Peter Aerts (1-2) in a three-round open weight contest; two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Gabi Garcia (1-0) put away Seini Draughn (0-1) with punches 2:36 into the first round of their women’s heavyweight battle; Soo Chul Kim (12-5-1) took a unanimous decision from Constrictor Team prospect Maike Linhares Galvao Amorim (9-1) in their three-round bantamweight scrap; Bellator MMA vet Brennan Ward (13-3) submitted the previously unbeaten Ken Hasegawa (10-1-1) with a rear-naked choke 1:52 into the second round of their middleweight encounter; and Rena Kubota (1-0) tapped Jleana Valentino (0-1) with a flying armbar 3:31 into round two of their women’s strawweight clash.