The UFC held their inaugural event in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday headlined by a heavyweight showdown between Alistair Overeem and Aleksei Oleinik at the Yubileyny Sports Palace.
Including Saturday’s fight, the main event participants have a combined 133 mixed martial arts fights, which doesn’t include Overeem’s kickboxing resume.
The 38-year old Overeem walked into the UFC’s octagon for the sixteenth time against the master of the Ezekiel choke.
Overeem ended up in Oleinik’s guard immediately but escaped the threat of Oleinik’s signature choke. Overeem had a game plan of heavy knees from the clinch that landed frequently, although Oleinik was piling up the volume strikes with shots to the body and unloading when Overeem was pressed against the cage. Towards the end of the round, Overeem connected with three unanswered knees and the final one dropped Oleinik, who was stopped with Overeem’s ground and pound.
It was Overeem’s second consecutive win and improves to 45-17 with 1 no contest throughout his 20- year mixed martial arts career. Oleinik drops to 57-12-1, ending his own two-fight win streak within the UFC. Afterward, Overeem indicated a desire to fight Alexander Volkov, who was his original opponent for this card and was replaced by Oleinik.
In the co-feature, there was a spectacular grappling battle between highly-touted Islam Makhachev and 22-year old Arman Tsarukyan.
Tsarukyan was ready for the wrestling of Makhachev, becoming the first UFC fighter to take down the Russian in the opening round and had body control from the back. The scrambles and battles were impressive, highlighted by Makhachev executing a trip takedown into the mount position.
In the second round, Makhachev took down his opponent, who failed to lock in a kimura. It was Makhachev’s wrestling that took over with several more completed in the third round and out grappling the game Tsarukyan and earning a unanimous decision on scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28. The two earned the Fight of the Night honor with an extra $50,000 for each fighter.
Makhachev improved to 17-1 and earned his fifth straight victory in the UFC’s lightweight division and 6-1 in the promotion since debuting in May 2015.
Sergei Pavlovich bounced back from a loss to Alistair Overeem by knocking out Marcelo Golm in the opening round of their heavyweight contest. Pavlovich displayed great technique and power, attacking Golm with a series of right hands before a fight-ending flurry that climaxed with a right uppercut that dropped and finished Golm.
The 36-year old Roxanne Modafferi scored a huge win with a split decision over rising prospect Antonina Shevchenko. It was the first loss of Shevchenko’s mixed martial arts career, who was signed after an impressive victory last June on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and won her promotional debut last November over Ji Yeon Kim.
The Performance of the Night bonuses was awarded to Magomed Mustafaev and Sergei Pavlovich for $50,000 each.
*Magomed Mustafaev def. Rafael Fiziev by TKO at 1:26 of Round 1
*Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov by KO at 0:44 of Round 1
*Shamil Abdurakhimov def. Marcin Tybura by TKO at 3:15 of Round 2
*Alexander Yakovlev def. Alex da Silva Coelho by guillotine choke at 3:10 of Round 2
*Sultan Aliev def. Keita Nakamura by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Movsar Evloev def. Seung Woo Choi by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-26)
*Krzysztof Jotko def. Alen Amedovski by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-26)
*Roxanne Modafferi def. Antonina Shevchenko by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
*Sergei Pavlovich def. Marcelo Golm by KO at 1:06 of Round 1
*Islam Makhachev def. Arman Tsarukyan by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Alistair Overeem def. Aleksei Oleinik by TKO at 4:45 of Round 1