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Vitaly Minakov improves to 19-0 with TKO victory at EFN 59

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Vitaly Minakov Bellator

Vitaly Minakov’s dominant run in Russia continued on Thursday, when he defeated DJ Linderman in the main event of Fight Nights Global 59.

The former Bellator heavyweight champion put his perfect 18-0 record on the line against 31-fight veteran Linderman and added another technical knockout victory to his resume, but had to fight for more than 10 minutes for the first time since leaving Bellator in 2014.

The fight started with a little confusion in the opening round, when the referee rushed Linderman to return instead of getting time to recover after a groin kick. Linderman rocked the Russian heavyweight late in the first, but Minakov was able to recover, come back, get the takedown and land heavy punches from the top position in the second round.

Linderman decided to counter in the final round, but Minakov found the distance and timing and landed a pair of clean right hands that rocked the American veteran. With Linderman hurt, Minakov pushed the pace and kept landing hard punches until Linderman went down and the referee stopped the fight.

In the co-main event, TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero took on Akhmed Aliev, who entered the fight with 11 wins in his last 12 fights. The lightweight bout started with a lot of action in the striking area, with Aliev landing good combinations standing and Escudero getting close to a rear-naked choke in the end of the opening round.

In the second and third rounds, though, both fighters stayed most of the time in the clinch, with Aliev attempting several spinning attacks. The Russian lightweight was declared the winner by unanimous decision, improving 15-4 in MMA and handing Escudero his first loss since leaving the UFC in 2016.

Check Fight Nights Global 59 full results below.

Vitaly Minakov def. DJ Linderman via TKO (R3, 3:09)
Akhmed Aliev def. Efrain Escudero via unanimous decision
Tomas Deak def. Alexander Yanishev via submission (rear-naked choke) (R2, 1:24)
Toman Kopylov def. Artem Shokalo via TKO (R3, 4:11)
Alexander Matmuratov def. Adi Alic via majority decision
Alexey Sidorenko def. Yusup Suleymanov via majority decision
Vartan Asatryan def. Elnar Ibragimov via TKO (R1, 4:07)
Kurban Omarov def. Joaquim Ferreira via TKO (R2, 1:36)
Nariman Abbasov def. Artur Zaynukov via unanimous decision
Rizvan Abuev def. Kanybek Beisheev via TKO (R1, 3:40)