ADCC champ Vinny Magalhaes used his striking to top Mikhail Zayats. | Photo: John Weible
PHOENIX -- M-1 Challenge 27 was held on the campus of Grand Canyon University, and the seven-bout fight card was anchored by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Vinny Magalhaes and challenger Mikhail Zayats.
Magalhaes, just weeks removed from his gold medal performance at ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, started out slow versus a game Zayats. The first two rounds were won by Zayats with his use of low kicks and the ability to shuck off the champion’s takedown attempts.
All was going well for the challenger until an unexpected right-footed head kick from Magalhaes brought the crowd to its feet and foiled Zayats chances of a upset.
After struggling on the feet for the better part of two rounds, Magalhaes set up the head kick with a one-two punch combo. When the kick connected with Zayats’ unblocked skull, the Russian combatant dropped to his knees and was swarmed on with punches. The official time of the stoppage was 1:13 of round three.
“The head kick I practice all the time, I just never had the confidence to do it,” Magalhaes said. “I had to do it because the first two rounds were not going my way. I felt I had to do something unexpected and that was the head kick.”
In the co-main event, heavyweights Kenny Garner and Maxim Grishin engaged in a war of wills -- as well as cardio -- for nearly 25 minutes.
The action inside the ring was back and forth in the early rounds, with both heavyweights content to lean up against the ropes in the clinch to conserve energy.
Following an armbar and triangle-choke submission attempt from Grishin in the fifth round, Garner turned the tide with a methodical pass into side control. The 36-year-old Garner induced a tap from a visibly exhausted Grishin after a few punches and positional dominance left him unable to continue with just 53 seconds to go in the fight.
“As long as I do my job I won’t have to leave it in the referee’s hands. Everyone who is listening, remember you can’t argue with the refs because you can’t beat the refs,” Garner said. “You just have to beat the person you are fighting and call it a day.”
Russia’s Arthur Guseinov shocked Eddie Arizmendi’s hometown crowd with a deadly heal hook. Guseinov threw the Arizona middleweight to the floor before he dropped down for a heel hook that had Arizmendi riving in pain at the 0:50 mark of round one.
The triangle choke was welterweight prospect Yasubey Enomoto’s weapon of choice versus Joshua Thorpe. Enomoto countered a takedown off his back with a triangle that forced his opponent to tap in just 67 seconds.
Welterweight Daniel Madrid of Phoenix slapped a quick armbar on Team Quest’s Tom Gallicchio. The official time of the submission was 48 seconds.
Welterweights Joe Martinez and Mike Chavez stood toe-to-toe for the better portion of three rounds. The ringside judges awarded a split decision 29-28, 29-28, 28-29 to Chavez, who got the best of the striking exchanges.
In the evening’s opening bout, lightweight upstart Ryan Crouch pounded out Frederick Lumpkin with punches at 2:26 of round two.
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of ULTMMA.com. You can contact him on Twitter at @ULTMMA