Beyond the Octagon: Roger Gracie takes light-heavyweight title, UFC vets go 3-3

In 1995, Rickson Gracie faced Shinya Aoki mentor Yuki Nakai in the finals of the World Vale Tudo Japan tournament. After six and a…

By: Rainer Lee | 7 years ago
Beyond the Octagon: Roger Gracie takes light-heavyweight title, UFC vets go 3-3
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

In 1995, Rickson Gracie faced Shinya Aoki mentor Yuki Nakai in the finals of the World Vale Tudo Japan tournament. After six and a half minutes, Gracie forced a half-blind Nakai to submit to a rear-naked choke. In the over twenty years since, no Gracie has captured as prominent an MMA title. That changed at ONE Championship’s latest event.

In the night’s co-main event, Roger Gracie returned from a year and a half away from MMA competition to face the undefeated Michal Pasternak for the title of inaugural light-heavyweight champion. Gracie ( 8-2, 0-1 UFC, 4-1 Strikeforce, 1-0 Sengoku) showed his typical composure as he held the center of the cage, biding his time as Pasternak (7-1-0) looked to land from outside. Gracie soon found his opportunity for a takedown as Pasternak, pressing forward in search of Gracie’s chin, ultimately landed in the clinch. A trip was soon in the offing. Gracie immediately passed to mount and, some two minutes after the opening bell, locked up the fight-ending arm-triangle choke.

Gracie is 2-0 since a lone appearance in the UFC, during which he dropped a decision to Tim Kennedy.

Watch Gracie vs. Pasternak here. Action starts at 1:00.

Also on the card, Jadamba Narantungalag (11-4, 2-0 Sengoku) returned to competition for the first time since losing his featherweight title, taking on fellow, former champion Kotetsu Boku (24-11-2, 0-1 Dream, 2-0 K-1 Hero’s).

It was a narrow first round, with plenty of knees traded in the clinch. Then, in the last 90 seconds of the round, the burlier Narantungalag took hold of a body lock and rag-dolled Boku to the mat. “No Face” did manage to work his way back to the feet but ate a few knees and hammer-fists in the process.

Narantungalag opened Round 2 strong, flooring Boku with a spinning hook kick (or spinning wheel kick, if you like). By the time Boku stood back up, Narantungalag had closed in for another body lock. Another big takedown put Boku on his back, but not for long, and the pair went back to roughing each other up in the clinch.

Round 3 started with more closely contested kickboxing but was again characterized by Narantungalag’s superior grappling. A takedown after the first minute would prove fateful, as Narantungalag quickly passed to side control with a arm-triangle choke in hand, forcing Boku to tap.

Narantungalag improves to 3-1 within the organization as Boku sees a recent winning streak halted at three.

Check out Narantungalag vs. Boku here. Action at 1:15.

And Tatsuya Mizuno (15-11-1, 2-2 Dream) returned to the win column with a TKO of Mohamed Ali (10-10-0). The beginning of the end came in Round 2 when a knee to the body left Ali staggered along the cage wall. A hail of knees and punches from Mizuno quickly forced the referee to stop the fight. Mizuno is 2-1-1 in the last two years.

Meanwhile, at Absolute Championship Berkut 35, newly minted welterweight champion Albert Duraev successfully defended his title for the first time, and against stiff competition in the form of Michail Tsarev (30-6, 1-2 Bellator). The two punished each other with leg and body kicks early on, but the telling blow would be landed in the clinch, where Duraev collapsed Tsarev with an uppercut. Follow-up strikes would seal the deal.

Duraev is 5-0 since 2015; Tsarev a disappointing 1-2 in that same span.

Watch Duraev vs. Tsarev here.

Earlier in the evening, Jesse Juarez (23-11, 3-2 Bellator) hoped to put himself on a winning streak for the first time since 2013 but was unable to get past the submission game of Beslan Isaev, who submitted Juarez with an armbar in Round 1.

Isaev vs. Juarez can be seen here.

And TUF 16’s Eddy Ellis (20-16-1, 1-0 Strikeforce) saw his winning streak stop short at two after absorbing a fight-ending leg kick from Amirkhan Adaev (10-3-0).

Adaev vs. Ellis is here.

Other Results

In the main event of West Coast FC 17, Justin Jones (8-2, 0-2 UFC) improved to 5-0 in his post-UFC career with a first-round TKO of Drew Montgomery (14-8-0).

At House of Fame 5, TUF 21 alum Steven Montgomery (9-5-0) slipped to 1-1 since his release from the UFC last November, falling to the strikes of Nicolai Salchov (6-0-0) in Round 1.

At Victory FC, Travis Fulton claimed victory number 255 thanks to a unanimous decision over Brad Scholten (14-23-0). Fulton’s total career mark stands at 255-51-10 (0-1 IFL, 1-1 UFC).

John Maguire (22-8, 2-3 UFC) won a third straight bout as he made short work of Vincent de Guerra (23-16-0), cinching up a rear-naked choke in under a minute. Maguire is on his longest winning streak since being cut from the UFC in 2013. This, in the main event of British Challenge MMA.

At 1 Round Combat 2 in Brazil, Edilberto de Oliveira (30-13-2, 0-2 UFC) saw a slowly developing winning streak halted at three as he dropped a unanimous decision to Ciro Rodrigues (20-7-0), who in this day and age is still rocking the nickname “Bad Boy.”

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