Undercards grab attention with knockout performances
Belal Muhammad in action against Takashi Sato during their welterweight bout duirng UFC 242 bout at The Arena at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. - Photo by Ryan Lim
Abu Dhabi - Each performance was rooted by capacity crowd at the Arena.
The undercard bouts of UFC 242 - the preliminaries to main card - made themselves count with ruthless knockout blows, submission and fiery standup tussles where winners made the opponents pay for their blinking laxity. Each performance was rooted by capacity crowd at the Arena.
In the lightweight contest, Moroccan livewire Ottman Azaitar, true to his nickname 'bulldozer', steamrolled Finnish Teemu Packalen with a brutal right hand onto the left ear. Packalen fell flat on the floor as Azaitar took his first knockout victory. "I usually prepare for a 15-minute fight. But I injured my left hand during the fight. I knew I had to use my right hand and go for the knockout," Azaitar said after K.O. in three minutes 33 seconds of first round.
The sole featherweight bout was the most evenly-matched contest. While Zubaira Tukhugov, Russian striker, unleashed a flurry of punches onto the UK's Lerone Murphy in the opener, the latter was up for the game in the second round. They were equal to the task in the third round and at the end the bout ended in a split call i.e. one judge favoured each and third judge gave equal points.
In a feisty welterweight encounter, Belal Muhammad from Chicago won his first career submission as he choked Takashi Sato with his right arm. After two rounds, Belal shifted gears in the third and finished the contest in 1 minute 55 seconds. "I had to put on a great show for the Middle East, this is my home crowd - the love and support I've been getting this week has been great," Belal said.
Meanwhile in another welterweight tie, Muslim Salikhov knocked out Nordine Taleb in four minutes, 26 seconds. In a tactical move, Salikhov 'King of Kung Fu' saw Taleb let his defence down and walloped a right-hand K.O. "I was prepared and tried to finish the match in the first round. I first punched him in the body and later went for his face," Salikhov added.
In the only middleweight bout, Omari Akhmedov secured a hard-fought victory over American Zak Cummings. Both the fighters gave good account of themselves in three rounds but Omari took his 19th MMA win by unanimous decision. Omari, hailing from main card Khabib Nurmagomedov's native place of Dagestan, acknowledged the crowd support he enjoyed. "It was like I was fighting at home. It's now the third time I've fought on the same card as Khabib and it's been another good night. It is very good for the focus because all the attention is on Khabib, but then you always get some of that attention," Omari added.
Also, Don Madge triumphed in the lightweight division over Fares Ziam. Don controlled the bout throughout and took down Fares for his ninth MMA win won by unanimous decision.
"I'm happy with my performance and think I showed my different side," Don added.