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The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Tuesday invited a few violent men to join its ranks, as Aliaskhab Khizriev, Tafon Nchukwi, Phil Hawes and Drako Rodriguez were awarded contracts on Week 6 of Dana White’s Contender Series at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Khizriev (13-0) dispatched former Heat champion Henrique Shiguemoto with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their brief middleweight pairing. Shiguemoto (13-4-1) conceded defeat 50 seconds into Round 1, the victim in the second-fastest submission in DWCS history.
After a brief exchange on the feet, Khizriev scrambled into the rear waistlock position, executed a takedown and almost immediately transitioned to the back. He set his hooks, flattened out his counterpart and cinched the choke for the sixth sub-minute stoppage of his career.
The loss was Shiguemoto’s first since Sept. 21, 2013.
Nchukwi Kick KOs Matavao
Tafon Nchukwi kept his perfect professional record intact and did so in terrifying fashion, as he knocked out former Alaska Fighting Championship titleholder Al Matavao in the second round of their light heavyweight encounter. An unconscious Matavao (8-3) bounced off the canvas 2:01 into Round 2 and remained down for several unsettling minutes.
Nchukwi (4-0) held all the physical advantages, including four inches in height and 9.5 inches in reach. Matavao spent much of his time moving away from the devastating weaponry being thrown at him and landed a few combinations, but he lacked the oomph necessary to give the monster standing across from him real pause. Nchukwi caught him circling and ducking in the second round and connected with the fight-ending kick in a gruesome scene.
The 25-year-old Nchukwi has finished all four of his opponents inside two rounds.
Related » DWCS Week 6
Resurgent Hawes Fells Bestaev
Sanford MMA export Phil Hawes wiped out Khadzhimurat Bestaev with punches in the first round of their middleweight clash. Operating out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Bestaev (10-4) bowed out 1:18 into Round 1.
Hawes (8-2) chewed up the lead leg with kicks, ducked a right hook and countered with one of his own. The concussive blow connected flush on the 6-foot-6 Bestaev’s jaw, dropping him where he stood. Hawes followed up with punches and hammerfists to draw the curtain.
The 31-year-old Hawes will ride a four-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Rodriguez Triangle Tranquilizes Martinez
Drako Rodriguez choked Fury Fighting Championship titleholder Leomana Martinez unconscious with a triangle in the first round of their bantamweight confrontation. Martinez (6-2) lost his grip on reality 2:22 into Round 1, his five-fight winning streak at an end.
Rodriguez (7-1) caught a kick, tripped the Metro Fight Club export to the floor and denied an attempted armbar and omoplata, then transitioned to the triangle. Martinez fought to extricate himself—he threatened a slam at one point—from the choke but only wandered deeper into danger. He soon went limp, leaving referee Marc Goddard to wave it off.
The 24-year-old Rodriguez has rattled off three straight victories since suffering his only professional setback to Tony Gravely in the fifth round of a King of the Cage title fight in 2018.
Unbeaten Blackledge Downs Church
Repeated takedowns, stellar clinch work and crisp combination punching carried undefeated Syndicate MMA prospect Sherrard Blackledge to a unanimous decision over Cameron Church in a three-round lightweight battle. All three judges sided with Blackledge (5-0): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Church (4-1) made it difficult. He hammered away at Blackledge with leg kicks, especially early, and tried to overwhelm him with pressure. Those efforts went unrewarded. Blackledge piled up points with a variety of strikes—they included a spinning back elbow to the chin in the final stanza—and delivered takedowns in all three rounds, consolidating them with positional control and ground-and-pound.
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