Alexey Oleinik gave the fans in Moscow what they came to see, as he secured a first-round win over Mark Hunt to end UFC Fight Night 136 on Saturday.
The veteran heavyweights put together a solid opening round, but a big left hook from the home favourite allowed him to secure a rear-naked choke.
Elsewhere, Jan Blachowicz pushed his winning streak to four fights, and Andrei Arlovski struggled in a decision loss.
Here are the full results:
- Alexey Oleinik def. Mark Hunt via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1
- Jan Blachowicz def. Nikita Krylov via submission (arm-triangle choke) Round 2
- Shamil Abdurakhimov def. Andrei Arlovski via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alexey Kunchenko def. Thiago Alves via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Khalid Murtazaliev def. CB Dollaway by TKO (referee's stoppage) Round 2
- Petr Yan def. Jin Soo Son by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Rustam Khabilov def. Kajan Johnson by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Mairbek Taisumov def. Desmond Green by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
- Magomed Ankalaev def. Marcin Prachnio via KO (head kick) Round 1
- Jordan Johnson def. Adam Yandiev by submission (side choke) Round 2
- Ramazan Emeev def. Stefan Sekulic by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-26)
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Terrion Ware by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
What's Next for Oleinik?
Oleinik and Hunt served up a short, fun bout, as the Samoan found success with an early leg kick that appeared to limit the 41-year-old Oleinik's mobility. The Russian answered with some excellent grappling.
Stamina and technique in the stand-up game have never been Oleinik's strengths, but in the heavyweight division, he presents a real threat due to his solid ground work. There are few giants of the sport as creative and consistent with their submissions, and that presents a major challenge.
It also makes him a hard man to find a matchup for, however. Per Bloody Elbow, he's looking for someone higher the rankings:
Tommy Toe Hold had an ambitious request:
The UFC are never going to match up a creative submission specialist who has a limited following against a bigger name they're trying to hype. There are too many risks involved.
Alistair Overeem, who is ranked sixth in the division and coming off a loss against Curtis Blaydes, would make sense.
Arlovski Needs to Hang Up the Gloves
Arlovski is a legend, but like so many greats before him, the 39-year-old has gone on fighting too long.
On Saturday, he lost a unanimous decision to Abdurakhimov—his second in a row. Back-to-back wins over Stefan Struve and Junior Albini had given him momentum, but it's worth remembering the veteran had lost five fights in a row before that run.
His performance in Moscow was a far cry from the Arlovski fans knew, and many noted it wasn't the first dull scrap he's been involved in of late:
Barring a turnaround for the ages, the Pitbull will never get back to title contention. Not at age 39, and not with seven losses in his last nine bouts. Arlovski was a great fighter, but that was long ago, and it's time to step away.
Herb Dean's Disasterclass
As far as MMA referees go, Herb Dean is considered among the best, which is why his disastrous handling of the fight between Khalid Murtazaliev and CB Dollaway stood out.
The former had dominated Dollaway in the final minutes of the second round, raining vicious ground-and-pound on the nearly defenseless fighter. With 20 seconds left in the frame, Dollaway rolled on his stomach and all but gave in, but Dean didn't stop the fight.
With announcers screaming at the referee to jump in and the fans looking confused, Dollaway endured another 20 seconds of punishment. Once the round ended, he couldn't get up and take a seat―but Dean still wasn't ready to call it a day, urging him to get up.
Fans and pundits couldn't believe what they saw:
Dean eventually awarded the stoppage win to Murtazaliev when Dollaway made it clear he didn't want to fight on, but the 35-year-old was done before that.