Protect your legs, “Toquinho” is back.
Wednesday, the Russian promotion Fight Nights Global revealed a trio of contests for its March 30 card, scheduled for March 30 at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow. Most notably, The Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Series of Fighting veteran Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares will square off with unbeaten Russian Aliaskhab Khizriev in a welterweight contest.
Fight Nights Global 85 will also feature a pair of promotional title fights, as Alexander Matmuratov defends his featherweight title against undefeated Movlid Khaibulaev, while in the main event, middleweight champ Abdulsupyan Alikhanov risks his throne against another unbeaten challenger in Roman Kopylov.
After consecutive losses to current UFC welterweight Emil Meek and KSW standout Michal Materla, the 38-year-old Palhares signed with FNG last summer and debuted in trademark fashion with a 37-second heel hook win over Alexei Ivanov. The Brazilian’s second appearance this past September, however, was mired in controversy when Palhares lost a hard-to-fathom split decision to Shamil Amirov. In the days following the brouhaha, the Russian MMA Federation overturned the result to a draw.
Khizriev turned professional in May 2014 and hasn't looked back since. The Eagles MMA rep has racked up an 11-0 record inside the cage, mostly recently earning a unanimous decision over Yasubey Enomoto last September.
Matmuratov, 28, earned the FNG featherweight title in 2017 by winning the promotion’s 145-pound title tournament, taking a majority verdict over Adi Alic, then knocking out Ilya Kurzanov in the finals. He returned to action in December, making a successful first title defence by earning a 25-minute unanimous verdict over his countryman Evgeniy Ignatiev.
The challenger Khaibulaev is undefeated at 13-0. In 2017, the 27-year-old first won a unanimous decision over then-unbeaten jiu-jitsu player Herbert Burns in the One Championship cage before returning to FNG in October and taking another 15-minute first over Ilya Kurzanov.
Like Matmuratov, Alikhanov earned his FNG title in a tournament, knocking out both Romanian Pavel Doroftei and his fellow countryman Khalid Murtazaliev. Since dropping his first pro bouts, the Eagles MMA fighter has won nine consecutive contests.
Kopylov, undefeated at 6-0, has stopped all of his foes inside the cage. In 2017, he clobbered Artem Shokalo and Jacob Ortiz inside the FNG cage, but also competed for Russian promotion S-70 in August, knocking out Luiz Gustavo Dutra da Silva in the first round.