Vitaly Minakov continues to make a case that he is perhaps the top heavyweight in the world outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The former Bellator MMA champion overwhelmed ex-UFC title challenger Antonio Silva at Fight Nights Global 68 in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday, winning via technical knockout 1:37 into the second round of their co-main event bout. Minakov improves to 20-0 with the victory, while Silva (19-12-1) has won just once in his last 10 outings. “Bigfoot” has suffered seven KO/TKO defeats during that slump.
Minakov’s speed advantage was apparent early, as he ducked under a massive Silva right hand to land a takedown in the bout’s opening moments. From there, the Russian confounded “Bigfoot” by repeatedly landing hard right hands and uppercuts while his opponent backed into the fence. While Silva whiffed on a number of powerful counters, he was able to redden Minakov’s lead leg with a series of low kicks in the opening frame.
Silva’s fate was sealed when Minakov caught a kick from the Brazilian and tripped his foe to the canvas early in round two. The 32-year-old then unloaded with approximately eight standing-to-ground punches on a dazed Silva before referee Herb Dean stepped in to halt the contest. Silva, who weighed in at a whopping 286.6 pounds for the bout, recently confirmed that he had resumed receiving testosterone replacement therapy for the first time since the treatment had been banned in the UFC.
Meanwhile, Nikita Krylov made it look easy in his first bout since parting ways with the UFC. The 25-year-old Ukrainian needed less than a minute to submit Stjepan Bekavac in a featured light heavyweight affair, locking in a guillotine and forcing a tapout shortly after the contest began. The official time of the tapout came 53 seconds into round one, giving Krylov his 14th career submission victory.
Krylov (22-5) quickly took Bekavac down and moved to side control. From there, “The Miner” transitioned to a front-headlock position before locking in the guillotine on the mat. Krylov then stood and cranked the hold, forcing Bekavac (19-7) to ask out of the fight. It was the 20th first-round finish of Krylov’s professional career.
Krylov had won six of his nine UFC appearances from 2013 to 2016 but was released from his contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion following a first-round submission loss to Misha Cirkunov this past December.
In the evening’s official main event, Sergey Pavlovich claimed the vacant Fight Nights Global heavyweight crown with a unanimous decision win over Mikhail Mokhnatkin in a largely forgettable affair. Two judges scored the contest 49-47 while a third had it 48-47, all in favor of Pavlovich.
The combatants were tentative for the majority of the contest, and the lack of meaningful offensive moments made the bout difficult to score. However, Pavlovich spent most of the fight advancing and landing occasional right hands and leg kicks, likely earning him the nod from those scoring cageside. Pavlovich clinched his victory with the bout’s only takedown in the final 15 seconds of round five.
Elsewhere, five-time Bellator MMA veteran Tony Johnson made a splash in his Fight Nights Global debut, as he scored a first-round technical knockout victory over the well-traveled Magomedbag Agaev in a heavyweight clash. The end came 1:20 into the opening stanza, giving Johnson (11-3) his fourth victory in five outings.
The 31-year-old Texan set the wheels in motion for victory when he landed a knee in the clinch and then dazed his Dagestani foe with a left hook on the break. Agaev stumbled backward and Johnson wasted little time rushing forward to pursue the finish. Johnson dropped Agaev to his seat with a series of left hooks and overhand rights before landing three to four more standing-to-ground punches to bring an end to the bout. Agaev (28-20), who has fought the likes of Mike Kyle, Kevin Randleman, Attila Vegh, Francimar Barroso, Francis Carmont, Alexey Oleynik and Trevor Prangley over the course of his career, has won just two of his last 11 bouts.
In the opening main card bout, Oleg Dadonov (7-1) relied on a methodical approach to take a unanimous decision over Jackie Gosh at welterweight. Takedowns and cage control carried the 23-year-old St. Petersburg, Russia, native throughout the contest, and he punctuated his victory by ending the welterweight bout with moderate ground-and-pound from mount. Gosh, who was coming off a first-round stoppage of Joaquin Buckley at Bellator 164, suffers his first career defeat to fall to 7-1.
In earlier action: Rustam Chsiev stopped Giorgi Lobzhanidze via technical knockout at the 3:30 mark of round three in a middleweight bout; Artur Guseinov knocked out Hasan Yousefi in the second round at light heavyweight; Vladimir Ivanov outpointed Dmitry Aryshev in a catch-weight affair and Vasiliy Zubkov garnered a technical submission over Islam Yashaev 5:00 into round two at welterweight.