Beyond the Octagon: Hioki, Gono victorious in Japan as UFC vets falter in Russia

Shout out to Sean, the first guy I've ever met, by chance, who is not only a big MMA fan, but a die-hard fan…

By: Rainer Lee | 7 years ago
Beyond the Octagon: Hioki, Gono victorious in Japan as UFC vets falter in Russia
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Shout out to Sean, the first guy I’ve ever met, by chance, who is not only a big MMA fan, but a die-hard fan of Bloody Elbow. Zuluzinho for president. Now, some MMA results.

Have you ever put on a nice, new Affliction t-shirt before going out on a hot date, caught yourself in the mirror, and done the Akihiro Gono dance before sliding out the door? Don’t lie to me, you lying filthy liar.

Fans of Gono (35-20-8, 3-2 Sengoku, 1-2 UFC, 6-3 PRIDE) will be happy to know that he returned to the ring for his second bout of the year and, in so doing, also made a return to the win column. Gono, who was knocked out last February, edged out novice Akhmat Akhmedov (0-1-0)  by split-decision. The win came at Real 5 in Tokyo and improves Gono’s record to 3-1 since 2014 (he did not compete at all in 2015).

Also in Tokyo last weekend, Hatsu Hioki (29-9-2, 3-5 UFC, 5-1 Sengoku, 1-0 PRIDE) faced Yojiro Uchimura (13-8-3) in the main event of Pancrase 279. Hioki, a long-time Top 10 featherweight, was a keenly anticipated addition to the UFC ranks in 2011. However, the former Sengoku champion was never able to reach contender status. After scraping together two wins to start his UFC run, he slipped into a 1-5 slump, the worst of it being the knockout loss to underdog Daniel Hooker that ended his UFC career. Hioki regained some career momentum on Sunday, though, as he walked away with a unanimous decision victory, improving to 2-0 since being released from the UFC; it’s the first time Hioki has won consecutive bouts in five years.

The event played host to another of Japan’s top featherweights in Hiroyuki Takaya (21-12-2, 8-3 Dream, 0-2 WEC). The former Dream champion headed into his bout with Argentinian Nazareno Malegarie (31-4, 1-3 Bellator) with the momentum of four straight wins, including a victory over TUF alum Daiki Hata. The bout, however, would belong to Malegarie, who was awarded the judges’ verdict across the board. It’s Takaya’s first loss in three years. Malegarie, meanwhile, has won his last three and is 10-1 since his last appearance in Bellator.

Also on the card, WEC vet Akitoshi Tamura (20-17-2, 1-1 Sengoku, 1-2 WEC) took a unanimous decision over Keinosuke Yoshinaga (2-6-0). Tamura, who between 2006 and 2008 put together an unlikely string of victories over Ian Loveland, Akiyo Nishiura, Takeshi Inoue, and Rumina Sato to become one of the top bantamweights in the world, is 3-3 since 2014.

And in Grozny, Russia, Akhmat Fight show put on the semifinal rounds of their suite of welterweight, middleweight light-heavyweight, and heavyweight tournaments. Among those progressing to the next round is Russian standout Maxim Grishin (23-6-0), who took a unanimous decision over Maxim Futin (6-3-1). Grishin is undefeated in his last thirteen outings, including wins over UFC vets Trevor Prangley, Rodney Wallace, and Mario Miranda, and a successful kickboxing bout against Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.

Geronimo Dos Santos (38-16-0), whose UFC debut was scuttled following a positive test for hepatitis, submitted Marcus Sursa (16-10, 0-1 Bellator) with a rear-naked choke in Round 1. Dos Santos has won two in a row since his submission loss to former Bellator champ Vitaly Minakov; Sursa, who knocked out Thiago Silva last year, is 1-2 since 2015.

Meeting Dos Santos in the finals will be Kazbek Saidaliev (7-1-0), who beat Goran Reljic (15-7, 1-3 UFC) by unanimous decision. Reljic is currently in a three-fight slump; he has never lost a fourth consecutive fight.

And in middleweight tournament action, Salamu Abdurakhmanov and Alexey Efremov both advanced following wins over UFC veterans. Adurakhmanov claimed a unanimous decision over Delson Heleno (29-9, 0-1 UFC, 5-3 IFL), thus ending a four-fight winning streak for the TUF: Brazil contestant; Efremov delivered a first-round knockout of Xavier Foupa-Pokam (31-22, 0-2 UFC).

And at Final Fight Championship 25, David Mitchell (20-6, 1-4 UFC) fought his way out of a two-fight slump with a first-round rear-naked choke of Dervin Lopez (8-4-0). Though his UFC campaign was underwhelming, Mitchell, who fought at welterweight in the Octagon, put together a strong seven-fight win streak directly following his release, including a trip up to heavyweight where he beat WSOF vet Dave Huckaba. He now stands at 1-1 for the year.

Anthony Njokuani (17-12, 3-5 UFC, 4-3 WEC), also eyeing a return to the win column, would not fair so well, dropping yet another decision, this one to fellow UFC alum Leonardo Mafra Texeira (13-3, 1-3 UFC). Njokuani has now lost five in a row; Mafra remains undefeated outside the UFC.

And that does it for just about HALF of last week’s major regional fight results. There’s plenty more coming to get you warmed up for this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 89. Keep your eyes peeled.

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