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Mamed Khalidov TKOs Jorge Santiago in Sengoku Upset

In a major MMA upset, Mamed Khalidov defeated Jorge Santiago by first-round TKO Saturday at Sengoku 11.

The Polish Khalidov came out aggressively, trying and missing a spinning back kick in the early going before Santiago took him down. On the ground, Khalidov stunned Santiago with a punch to the jaw, and as soon as he smelled blood he pounced, unleashing a series of hard strikes to the head that had Santiago dazed and hurting. The referee stepped in and stopped it at the 2:45 mark of the first round.

"I always had a dream to come to Japan," Khalidov said after the fight. That dream turned out to be a nightmare for Santiago, who was on a nine-fight winning streak and was widely regarded as one of the world's 10 best middleweights. Now Santiago falls to 21-8.

For Khalidov, who improves his record to 20-3-1, this is a career-changing performance. Khalidov had been fighting in the Polish promotion KSW, and until now was best known to American fans (to the extent that he was known to American fans at all) for beating Jason Guida in a ShoXC fight last year.

Now Khalidov has a much, much bigger win on his record than that. He's an exciting, well-rounded fighter who can be expected to do big things in the future. By beating Santiago, he's already done something big.

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