TOKYO -- Siyar Bahadurzada at a post-fight press conference on Sunday responded to criticism regarding his celebration after his victory over Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in the Sengoku middleweight grand prix quarter-finals.
Bahadurzada’s Sengoku V bout with Santos was stopped after just 22 seconds when the Brazilian striker suffered a dislocated elbow in the opening moments of their match at Yoyogi National First Stadium. He mounted the ring ropes in celebration immediately after the stoppage, even as Santos lay stricken in the ring.
“The fact that I got so excited after the fight was [because] I trained for Cyborg only 10 days,” Bahadurzada said. “Before that, I [had] a couple of weeks in Afghanistan, and I got sick there. When I came back to Holland, I was using four kinds of antibiotics to get cured. I was pretty weak and [in] a very bad condition.”
The 24-year-old Bahadurzada (14-3-1) has won eight of his past nine bouts and advanced to the Sengoku grand prix semi-finals, along with Kazuhiro Nakamura, Jorge Santiago and Yuki Sasaki. The “Afghan Killa” wished Santos well and offered him a rematch once he recovers from his injury. Bahadurzada called his celebration nothing more than an emotional release.
“Before this fight, I had three injuries,” he said. “I broke my right hand twice and had an elbow operation, so all my frustrations after the fight … I couldn’t keep them in me. I had to throw it out in the ring. It wasn’t because I was happy that Cyborg lost the fight unfortunately because of an injury; it was more losing my frustrations. I would like to give Cyborg a rematch whenever he is ready.”
A hard-fought decision victory against Golden Glory’s Paul Cahoon moved Nakamura (12-8) into the tournament semi-finals but left him feeling for his British opponent.
“He had a great heart and great strength,” Nakamura said. “He came all the way from England to have a fight in Japan with me. I had some experience in the UFC. After losing a fight, it’s really depressing.”
Santiago’s second-round choke against Logan Clark re-affirmed his position as one of the tournament favorites. A World Extreme Cagefighting veteran, Clark had never been finished in 13 previous bouts.
“I hope I showed all my skills,” Santiago (18-7) said. “I can fight stand-up; I can fight wrestling and grappling. I’m looking forward to winning this tournament.”
A somewhat surprising entrant into the semi-finals, Yuki Sasaki stopped UFC and Pride Fighting Championships veteran Yuki Kondo on a second-round choke. Sasaki (22-14-1) was fighting for more than personal pride.
“It was an individual fight, but really it was Pancrase versus Grabaka,” Sasaki said. “I’m really happy that Grabaka won.”
Although his professional mixed martial arts debut did not go the way most expected, five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Alexandre “Xande” Ribeiro found his victory over professional wrestler Takashi Sugiura deeply satisfying.
“It was a great experience for me because I got to fight three rounds,” Ribeiro said. “I got to be a little tired and then come back and win the fight. It actually feels better than fighting jiu-jitsu because I didn’t get nervous.”
Ribeiro, who finished Sugiura with strikes in the third round, reiterated his interest in an eventual bout with Hidehiko Yoshida.
“I think it would be interesting if we put our gis on, put the gloves on and punch each other in the face,” Ribeiro said.
Discussing his TKO win over the experienced Travis Wiuff, Muhammed Lawal promised to dole out more punishment despite only five weeks of formal stand-up training.
“I’d like to thank y’all for having me come through and wreck shop; it was fun,” Lawal (1-0) said. “I’m looking to do it again, so just call me up. Call me up, and I’ll wreck shop again.”