Stephan ‘T-800’ Puetz Defends LHW Title, Cody McKenzie KO’d at M-1 Challenge 54

By Chris Nelson Dec 17, 2014
German light heavyweight Stephan Puetz defended his M-1 Challenge championship for the second time and handed Valery Myasnikov the first defeat of his career in the main event of M-1 Challenge 54 on Wednesday.

Co-promoted by M-1 Global and Chechen organization Absolute Championship Berkut, the 12-bout show took place at Ice Palace arena in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Puetz moved slowly and methodically in the title fight’s opening frame, holding his Russian challenger against the ropes while working for a takedown that did not materialize. When Myasnikov was able to break free, “The Russian Hammer” touched Puetz with powerful strikes, including a clean uppercut to the jaw and a knee to the gut in the clinch.

The second round was a different story, as Puetz slammed Myasnikov to the canvas early and began landing heavy ground-and-pound from guard. From there, “T-800” terminated Myasnikov’s title hopes by moving to full mount and dropping punches with both hands until referee Vyacheslav Kiselev intervened at the 3:13 mark. The win moves Puetz’s record to 12-1, including three wins in M-1 over the last nine months, while Myasnikov falls to 8-1.

In a battle of unbeaten 155-pounders, it was Maxim Divnich who emerged with his “0” intact, as the Alexander Nevsky Club representative halted Dzhambulat Kurbanov to claim the vacant M-1 Challenge lightweight title. Divnich reversed multiple takedowns and fended off various submission attempts through the first 10 minutes of the bout, repeatedly bringing the fight back to the feet and backing up Kurbanov with superior standup. One minute into the third frame, Divnich floored Kurbanov with a series of uppercuts and right hooks, then pounded away with further punches on the ground until referee Kiselev stepped in at 1:20.

ACB standout Beslan Isaev scored the evening’s most impressive stoppage by knocking former Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor Cody McKenzie senseless in round one of their welterweight matchup. The guillotine-minded McKenzie was on the hunt for takedowns from the onset, but once Isaev got his distance from the American, he made McKenzie pay. A long, sloppy shot from the “AK Kid” was countered perfectly by a knee from Isaev, who collected the 31st win of his career via knockout at 2:20.

The show’s other UFC veteran fared better, as middleweight Luigi Fioravanti took out grappling ace Ruslan Khaskhanov in the first round. Khaskhanov, who entered the bout with a yellow card after missing weight on Tuesday, connected with some hard hooks early and opened a cut near Fioravanti’s left eye. But “The Italian Tank” kept rolling forward and floored Khaskhanov with an uppercut near the ropes, then pounded him out with hammer fists to force a stoppage from referee Viktor Korneev at 3:06 of round one.

Despite sustaining a cut near the right eye from an accidental clash of heads in round one, Anatoly Tokov only got better over the course of his tilt with Spanish import Enoc Solves Torres. The winner of M-1 Global’s “M-1 Fighter” reality show made a strong case to be the company’s next middleweight contender, as Tokov grounded and pounded Torres in round two before finishing with an uppercut and follow-up shots 53 seconds into round three.

Streaking light heavyweight Artur Astakhov won his ninth consecutive bout by submitting Evgeni Guryanov in the first round. Astakhov landed several hard leg kicks before taking the 6-foot-4 Ukranian to the ground and applying a fight-ending armbar at the 3:03 mark.

American Kickboxing Academy featherweight Daniel Swain fought to a three-round majority draw with Zalimbek Omarov, a replacement for Swain’s original opponent, Musa Khamanaev. Omarov landed multiple takedowns through the first two frames, but Swain stormed back in round three, nearly finishing the Russian with punches from full mount in the final 30 seconds. Judges’ scorecards were not announced.

At welterweight, Alexei Kunchenko put a quick end to Grigoriy Kichigin’s night with a barrage of punches that forced referee Mika Sinkkonen into action at 2:32 of round one.

In early preliminary action, featherweight Yusup Raisov submitted Mikhail Kuznetsov with a rear-naked choke at 1:48 of round one, while welterweight Zaur Kasumov hit a quick takedown, worked his way to full mount and forced Arkhat Mynbaev to submit to a guillotine choke in 1:53. Muslim Makhmudov outboxed Evgeni Boldyrev in an unremarkable heavyweight two-rounder, and bantamweight Rasul Albaskhanov opened the card in sensational fashion, putting to sleep favored opponent Ondrej Skalnik with a rear-naked choke in just 18 seconds.

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