Dagestan has a new undefeated prospect in the UFC — and this one is a heavyweight.
A former volleyball player for the Dagestan national team before he was discovered by legendary MMA coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, Shamil Gaziev (11-0) needed just three minutes to demolish previously unbeaten Greg Velasco (6-1) and secure a no-brainer UFC contract in Tuesday’s Contender Series main event at the UFC APEX.
Gaziev, 33, knocked down Velasco with the first punch of the fight, a wicked right hand that immediately put the American on the defensive. Gaziev then pounced on his fallen prey, took Velasco’s back in the ensuing scramble, and forced the fight-ending tapout with a rear-naked choke at the 2:38 mark of Round 1.
“My goal is to win a title,” Gaziev said. “That day, you will see me happy.”
In perhaps the most impressive performance of the night, Brazilian lightweight Kaynan Kruschewsky (15-1, 1 NC) put Dylan Mantello (7-3) to sleep to cap off a scintillating showing, ending his foe’s night with a rear-naked choke less than three minutes into the bout.
Kruschewsky, 30, started out afire, blasting Mantello with jabs and straight punches. He then took Mantello’s back off a takedown and locked in the fight-ending submission, inking his UFC deal with stunning ease. The stoppage officially came at 2:52 of Round 1.
The opening bout of the card saw 20-year-old Brazilian flyweight Igor da Silva (8-0) steamroll over Jhonata Silva (8-2) in an emotional performance to earn his UFC contract.
The youngest prospect on this Contender Series season, da Silva dropped his countryman twice with thudding left hooks before sealing his win with a flurry of ground-and-pound punches at 2:37 of the second round.
A decorated jiu-jitsu player, Alencar controlled the first two rounds with her takedowns and smothering grappling game, however she gassed out in Round 3 and Luciano took advantage, blasting Alencar with punches in bunches to earn a 10-8 round, leading all three judges to correctly turn in 28-28 scorecards.
Luciano ultimately won the striking battle 89-32 and defended 14 of 18 takedown attempts. In doing so, she impressed UFC president Dana White enough to earn UFC deal.
The lone winner of the evening to not sign a UFC contract was 31-year-old lightweight Daniel Allen (5-0), who took a hard-fought decision over Jacobi Jones (6-2).
Despite being a two-time JUCO All-American wrestler, Allen led the dance from pillar to post with his boxing, peppering Jones with long jabs and straight punches while using his length to frustrate his fellow American. In the end, all three judges scored the bout for Allen via 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28 scores, however the performance was not convincing enough for White to award him a place in the UFC.