Fedor Emelianenko was back in the MMA ring and back to his winning ways.
"The Last Emperor," in his return after more than three years, finished Jaideep Singh via TKO early in the first round Thursday at Rizin Fighting Federation 2 in Japan.
Emelianenko (35-4, 1 NC) got hit once or twice very early. But the Russian legend landed a combination and soon after took Singh to the ground. That is not where the accomplished kickboxer wanted to be. Emelianenko got full mount and slammed punches repeatedly into Singh's face. Referee John McCarthy stepped in to stop the action.
Emelianenko, 39, is one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. He came in a very heavy favorite against Singh, who was only 2-0 in MMA. Singh, 28, sports a 40-10 kickboxing record, but was no match for Emelianenko's ground game.
Over the summer, the former PRIDE and Strikeforce superstar announced he would be coming out of retirement. In September, Emelianenko announced at Bellator: Dynamite that he had signed with Rizin and his former PRIDE promoter Nobuyuki Sakakibara. The UFC was believed to be in negotiations for his services, but he signed a multi-fight deal with the Japanese organization.
After Emelianenko dispatched of Singh, Muhammed Lawal put a stamp on the inaugural Rizin week with a one-punch knockout victory over Jiri Prochazka in the finals of the Rizin heavyweight grand prix tournament. Lawal landed a picture-perfect lead straight right hand that sent Prochazka crashing to the mat face down.
Lawal (19-4, 1 NC) had to win three fights in three days to earn the tournament victory. Lawal, 34, advanced to the finals with a unanimous decision win over Teodoras Aukstuolis. Prochazka beat Vadim Nemkov in the semis with Nemkov could not continue after an absolutely wildly paced first round.
"King Mo" had trouble early with the very active, very athletic Prochazka, who threw kick after kick. But once Lawal took down the Czech fighter and softened him up, it left him open to land the clean, knockout blow.
In her MMA debut, 10-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Gabi Garcia took out Lei'd Tapa in unorthodox fashion. The star grappler didn't use any of her ground skills. She knocked Tapa down with a wild backfist in the first round and finished her with strikes from top position. Tapa, a pro wrestler with experience in TNA Impact, actually rocked Garcia early before Garcia got somewhat comfortable on the feet. Overall, though, it was a sloppy affair.
Garcia, 30, has been training at Kings MMA, while Tapa is at American Top Team. At 216 pounds, Garcia is going to have a hard time finding MMA opponents even if she does improve her striking.
Slamming your way out of a triangle is a terrible idea against a Gracie. Asen Yamamoto attempted just that against Kron Gracie and it completely backfired. Gracie readjusted and made the triangle tighter. Yamamoto had no choice but to tap out in the first round of the battle between men with legendary families.
Gracie, who moves to 2-0 in MMA after an illustrious jiu-jitsu career, is the son of Rickson. Yamamoto, a 2020 Olympic wrestling hopeful, is the nephew of Kid Yamamoto.
Another Bellator representative, Brennan Ward, looked good in finishing Ken Hasegawa via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round. Ward landed some big shots in the first round, but couldn't finish. He got to Ward with some slick grappling in the second.
Decorated Dutch kickboxer Andy Souwer made his MMA debut an impressive one with a TKO of Yuichiro Nagashima in the first round. Souwer destroyed Nagashima on the ground with knees and punches to the head and finished with a series of left hooks to the liver.
In the opener, Rena Kubota got things started off with a bang, beating Jleana Valentino via flying armbar in the second round. The submission was reminiscent to one hit by Rose Namajunas for Invicta FC in 2013.