Meaningful MMA exists beyond the confines of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator MMA and World Series of Fighting. In this monthly series, Sherdog.com recaps the month that was on the regional circuit in mixed martial arts:
Cue the Ted Nugent classic. Marat Gafurov has a stranglehold on One Championship gold.
The unbeaten Gafurov retained his featherweight title in the One Championship 43 “Kingdom of Champions” co-main event on May 27, as he submitted Kazunori Yokota with a second-round rear-naked choke at Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. Yokota conceded defeat 4:25 into round two, the setback snapping his 13-fight winning streak.
Fast hands and nimble feet were not enough to save Yokota, though he drew a smile from the champion with an early overhand right. Gafurov methodically imposed his will throughout the first round, dragging the two-division Deep champion and Sengoku veteran to the canvas on multiple occasions before transitioning between back mount and full mount. It was a harbinger of what was to come.
Gafurov seemed content to trade in round two, and the challenger obliged. With a little more than a minute remaining in the round, the “Cobra” executed a takedown from the clinch, advanced to mount and forced Yokota to surrender his back. From there, Gafurov softened the Funabashi, Japan, native with punches and knees before sinking the choke. Yokota had never before been submitted in his 34-fight career.
In the headliner, reigning Shooto champion Yoshitaka Naito added the One Championship strawweight title to his collection, as he submitted Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke with a fourth-round rear-naked choke. Amnuaysirichoke tapped 4:00 into round four. Naito, 32, has won all 11 of his pro bouts, finishing six of them.
Meanwhile, Timofey Nastyukhin authored one of the most violent and visually unsettling knockouts of the year, as he wiped out Rob Lisita in just six seconds. Nastyukhin floored Lisita with a right hand and then knocked him stiff with a stomach-churning right soccer kick before referee Yuji Shimada could arrive on the scene.
Absolute Championship Berkut Crowns Tokov
Anatoly Tokov has some nice hardware to show for his efforts.
Tokov laid claim to the vacant middleweight championship in the Absolute Championship Berkut 38 headliner on May 20, as he disposed of Arbi Agujev with fourth-round punches at KSK Ekspress in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Agujev met his end 4:19 into round four, becoming the latest in a long line of Tokov victims.
The 26-year-old Tokov gradually wore down his counterpart. Operating behind a crushing left jab, he carved up Agujev with two-, three- and four-punch combinations. Late in the fourth round, Tokov secured a takedown, postured and let go with punches on the weary Agujev until referee Lukasz Bosacki had seen enough.
Now sporting a gaudy 23-1 record, Tokov has rattled off 16 consecutive victories.
In Brief: WSOF Champion Bibulatov Advances to Grand Prix Final
Reigning World Series of Fighting flyweight champion Magomed Bibulatov cut down Giovanni da Silva 3:46 into the first round of their Akhmat Fight Show 22 headliner on May 22 in Grozny, Russia. The win improves Bibulatov to 12-0 and sends him to the final of the promotion’s eight-man grand prix at 125 pounds ... Rashid Yusupov walked away with a split decision and the M-1 Global light heavyweight championship, as he edged Viktor Nemkov across five rounds in the M-1 Challenge 66 main event on May 27 in Orenburg, Russia ... Korean Top Team prospect Kwan Ho Kwak retained his bantamweight title with a five-round unanimous decision over UFC washout Alptekin Ozkilic in the Top Fighting Championship 11 main event on May 22 in Seoul. Kwak, 26, moved to 9-0 ... Emil Weber Meek upset former WSOF champion Rousimar Palhares in the Venator Fighting Championship 3 headliner on May 21 in Milan, Italy, as he stopped the Brazilian with punches and elbows 45 seconds into round one. Other winners at the event included Luke Barnatt, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Karl Amoussou and Cody McKenzie ... Fast-rising Australian prospect Michael Tobin kept his perfect professional record intact, as he submitted Edwin Arana with an armbar 79 seconds into the first round of the Brace For War 40 main event on May 14 in Queensland, Australia. Tobin now owns an 11-0 record, with 10 submissions ... Felipe Silva took care of UFC veteran Anton Kuivanen with first-round punches atop Cage 35 on May 13 in Helsinki, Finland. Kiuvanen succumbed to blows 4:04 into round one.
More Regional Coverage »
• Khalidov Retains KSW Title
• Gibson Claims Tachi Palace Fights Gold
• Duquesnoy Flattens Walsh for BAMMA Belt
• Evinger Keeps Invicta Championship
• One Championship Crowns Lee in FOTY Contender