Jiri Prochazka didn't come out on top of Rizin Fighting Federation's eight-man tournament back in the New Year's Eve season, but the 23-year-old Czech prospect still scored a first-round stoppage in the Rizin 1 headliner on Sunday in Nagoya, Japan, knocking out longtime Japanese veteran Kazuyuki Fujita inside Nippon Gaishi Hall.
Prochazka (17-3-1) threatened the 45-year-old Fujita (15-11) from the heavyweight bout's outset, forcing “Ironhead” to shoot for repeated takedowns. Though the longtime Pride Fighting Championships mainstay was able to knock Prochazka off-balance at one point, “Denisa” quickly took his feet, landed a clean right hook that put down his foe and stopped the bout at just 3:18 of the opening round.
Prochazka's only loss in his last 13 bouts is his Dec. 31 knockout loss in the Rizin tournament final to Muhammed Lawal. Fujita is now 1-6 in his last seven bouts over a nine-year stretch.
In the Rizin 1 co-feature, one of the promotion's young “musketeers” suffered defeat as Vadim Nemkov dropped a split decision to upstart Swedish light heavyweight Karl Albrektsson.
The 22-year-old Albrektsson (5-0) demonstrated superior fitness and wrestling over his Russian opponent, weathering Nemkov's attack over the opening 10 minutes, then landing cleaner strikes and dominating position over the final two rounds. Judges Hidenobu Koike and Motoki Yoshida both awarded the split decision to Albrektsson, while dissenting judge Yoshitaro Niimi had it for Nemkov.
At 215 pounds, Lithuania's Teodoras Aukstuolis improved to 9-3, earning a unanimous decision over K-1 veteran Jaideep Singh (2-2).
Though Singh was able to sweep from the bottom on multiple occasions, he couldn't stop Aukstuolis' wrestlng, repeated full mounts and ground-and-pound attack, dropping the unanimous verdict over 20 minutes.
Most of the evening's starpower existed in a 15-minute tag-team grappling match, pitting former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva and Rings star Kiyoshi Tamura -- former adversaries over Pride's 205-pound title -- against Silva's great rival, Kazushi Sakuraba, and slick grappling underdog Hideo Tokoro.
The tag match, predictably, went to a time-limit draw with no submissions being scored. Silva and Sakuraba both attacked one another from the clinch, as Silva tried to roughhouse the Japanese legend and Sakuraba sought his famous standing kimura. Tamura and Tokoro found themselves squaring off on several occasions, with Tokoro opting for sliding leg locks, while Tamura threatened with armbars to genuine excitement but no avail.
Gargantuan grappling star Gabi Garcia improved to 2-0 in her nascent career, dominating overmatched Russian Anna Malyukova. The 209-pound Garcia moved to full mount at will before finally snatching the decisive armbar victory at 2:04 of the second stanza.
Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight veteran Daron Cruickshank (17-8, 1 NC) earned his first victory since October 2014, halting Shinji Sasaki (16-9-3) at 4:36 of the first round. “The Detroit Superstar” was all over his opponent from the opening bell, forcing him into ill-advised shots that set up the fight-ending right hook-soccer kick combo.
At 180 pounds, Bellator MMA vet Hisaki Kato (6-2) made short work of Yuta Watanabe (19-7-4). The Daidojuku ace was in Watanabe's face instantly with uppercuts, socking him up until he earned the stoppage from referee Naoya Uematsu in just 64 seconds.
In heavyweight action, Fedor Emelianenko pupil Kirill Sidelnikov (9-4) earned a close split decision over American Chris Barnett (14-3). Both men fatigued over the 20-minute contest, but the Russian's consistent output and a big head kick late seemed to seal the verdict.
In her pro MMA debut, international freestyle wrestling standout Kanako Murata used power double-leg takedowns and a variety of keylock and kimura attacks from side control to best Russia's Natalia Denisova (2-2) over a methodical 15 minutes.
Under Shoot Boxing rules, three-time S-Cup winner Rena Kubota showed off her counterstriking and suplexes, earning two Shoot points for a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-28, 30-28) over Chute Boxe's Cyndi Alves.
In undercard kickboxing action, Tetsuya Yamato registered three knockdowns to stop Hiroto Yamaguchi at 2:32 of the first round in their 141-pound contest; Brazilian Danilo Zanolini halted Norihisa Amimoto with a right hook at 2:19 of their 160-pound bout; and in the evening's opener at 132 pounds, Yuya Yamato needed just 66 seconds to punch out Yuki Kotani, sending him to the mat three times.
A scheduled flyweight contest between Brazilian Allan Nascimento and Deep flyweight champion Yuki Motoya was canceled due to Motoya not making weight and being medically unable to fight.
The official announced attendance inside Nippon Gaishi Hall was 7,291.