It didn't come easy, but it did come in spectacular fashion, as M-1 Global light heavyweight champ Vinny Magalhaes scored a third-round stoppage of impressive challenger Mikhail Zayats.
Magalhaes survived some early challenges from his foe before landing a crushing high kick that ultimately led to the finish.
The bout served as the featured contest of Friday night's "M-1 Challenge: Magalhaes vs. Zayats" event, which took place in Phoenix's Grand Canyon University Arena. The night's main card aired on Showtime.
Magalhaes moved quickly forward at the opening bell, firing high kicks while looking to close the distance. Zayats looked to work his hands from a distance, but Magalhaes moved in tight and looked to work the fight to the floor. The submission ace had to settle for pulling guard, and Zayats was able to work away after a few brief seconds on the mat.
Magalhaes continued to search for takedowns, and Zayats was warned for resting his arms on the ropes while trying to defend, but he was able to stay out of trouble until the whistle – which only signaled the 10-second mark but still saw both fighters disengage until the bell.
Zayats sent Magalhaes to the floor in the second with an early low kick, and he also began to fire his hands with more frequent success. Magalhaes found it difficult to close the distance until halfway in, at which point he scored a takedown directly into mount. Zayats quickly scrambled back to top position and remained safe even while Magalhaes tried to scramble and roll. On the feet, Zayats continued to strike when possible, as well.
In the third, Magalhaes finally came alive, scoring with a spectacular right high kick to the neck as he ducked away. Zayats dropped to his knees, and a few punches sealed the result for the submission specialist at the 73-second mark of the third round.
Magalhaes (9-5) now has four consecutive wins. Zayats (14-6) sees a four-fight win streak snapped.
In the night's co-feature, Kenny Garner claimed M-1 Global's interim heavyweight title with a fifth-round stoppage of Maxim Grishin in a rather tedious affair.
Garner moved quickly forward at the opening bell and pushed into the clinch. An ensuing knee found Grishin's cup, but Garner went quickly back to work on the restart by landing several heavy left hands. Despite the success with his hands, Garner seemed content to use his weight advantage by leaning on his smaller opponent in the clinch for most of the first round. A takedown in the closing minute secured him the frame, but Garner's best work seemed to take place on the feet.
Garner continued to press into the clinch during the second frame, and he scored a takedown about two minutes in. However, he backed away to reset, and Grishin was extremely slow to do the same. Grishin scored his own takedown late in the round, and after a creative scrambling guard pass, he moved to mount. He nearly locked in armbar in the closing seconds, but Garner was saved by the bell.
Grishin scored a quick takedown in the third frame, and Garner purposely ducked through the ropes to earn a restart on the feet. Both fighters were visibly exhausted as they went back to work, and Garner found himself falling into top position after a few missed takedowns. Grishin earned a sweep but quickly gave it up while seeking a leg. The referee called for time after an illegal upkick from Grishin, which earned a warning from the referee. Both fighters had their hands on their knees during the stoppage, and a timekeeper miscommunication led to an early end to the frame.
In the fourth, Grishin elected to go immediately to his back. Garner pressed in to strike from the top, and the action was then moved to the center to get the two away from the ropes. Garner then stood and asked for Grishin to follow. Neither exhausted competitor could muster much offense as the fight wore on. Garner got the better of what little was there to score, and Grishim was embarrassingly slow to rise when his opponent would back away from brief scrambles on the floor.
In the final frame, neither had much left in the tank, and there action was stagnant until the middle stages. Grishin appeared ready to end the fight with an armbar, but Garner battled through the hold and moved to top position. Grishin then tried to set up an armbar but couldn't lock it on. From there, a few short punches came in from the top, and an exhausted Grishin simply tapped out with 53 seconds remaining.
With the win, Garner (8-3) claims M-1 Global's interim heavyweight title and should next face M-1 Global heavyweight champ Guram Gugenishvili. Grishin (11-6) sees a four-fight win streak snapped.
After wowing with a brutal knockout in his most recent outing, Arthur Guseinov returned with a nasty submission win over Eddie Arizmendi in a middleweight affair
Guseinov opened with a spinning back kick that missed, and an ensuing scramble saw Guseinov wind up in top position. Guseinov then quickly dropped back to secure his opponent's right leg and cranked the heel hook. The total process took just 50 seconds, and Arizmendi remained on the floor in obvious pain.
Guseinov (9-2) is now riding a two-fight win streak. Arizmendi (15-5) sees a five-fight win streak snapped.
In a welterweight matchup, Yasubey Enomoto outclassed Josh Thorpe in a 67-second affair.
Enomoto looked comfortable on the feet against his southpaw opponent in the early going. Thorpe then shot in for a takedown, but Enomoto wasted little time going on the attack from his back, looking first to set up an omo plata before switching quickly to triangle choke. Thorpe was trapped, and while he he looked briefly to escape, he had little choice but to tap.
A four-time Sengoku veteran, Enomoto (8-3) is now on a two-fight win streak. Thorpe (10-6) has now dropped three-straight fights.
In the night's opening contest, Daniel Madrid made quick work of the more experienced Tom Gallicchio, tapping him out in less than one minute of the opening round.
An early Madrid flurry landed flush, and Gallicchio lost his mouthpiece. He instantly pushed in on his taller foe and worked the fight to the floor, but Madrid was comfortable on the bottom and quickly locked in an armbar. Gallicchio tried to roll, but the hold was tight, and Madrid earned the tap.
Madrid (7-2) improves to 3-1 in his past four fights. Gallicchio (16-7) falls to just 1-2 in his past three.
MAIN CARD (Showtime)
- Champ Vinny Magalhaes def. Mikhail Zayats via TKO (strikes) - Round 3, 1:13 - to retain light heavyweight title
- Kenny Garner def. Maxim Grishin via submission (punches) - Round 5, 4:07 - to become interim heavyweight champion
- Arthur Guseinov def. Eddie Arizmendi via submission (heel hook) - Round 1, 0:50
- Yasubey Enomoto def. Josh Thorpe via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 1:07
- Daniel Madrid def. Tom Gallicchio via submission (armbar) - Round 1, 0:48