Batraz Agnaev became the ACB light heavyweight champion on Saturday night in Sheffield with a second-round knockout of UFC veteran Thiago Silva.
The crowd at the Sheffield Arena witnessed nine stoppages on the night, with only three fights forcing the judges to be called into action.
ACB announced their intention to pay out $5000 bonuses for stoppages last month and it certainly seemed to add a lot of incentive for the fighters who took to the cage on the night.
Agnaev brought Silva to the canvas twice with his right hand before he eventually finished him with grounded shots with 90 seconds left in the second round.
The Russian’s boxing looked much improved against the Brazilian knockout artist. Although there was a massive gulf in experience between the two fighters — Agnaev was competing in just his fourth professional fight on the night — the towering Russian rose to the occasion and claimed the biggest scalp of his career.
In the co-main event, Brendan Loughnane came up short against UFC and Strikeforce veteran Pat Healy. After three eventful rounds, the judges gave the American stalwart the split-decision nod.
Healy was on the end of a striking clinic from Loughnane in the first round. The Manchester man smashed his shin into the American’s lead leg and landed sharp blows to the head as Healy charged forward.
At first, Healy’s size advantage seemed to hinder him as Loughnane effortlessly came in and out of distance and tagged him, but later in the second round, Healy’s constant forward motion saw him gain some momentum when he forced the Englishman up against the fence and landed punishing blows.
The third round saw a complete role reversal with Loughnane shooting for takedowns on the oncoming Healy. Once Healy took top position, he was all over the surging All Powers fighter, landing knees and punches and attempting to secure a choke.
On the final bell, Loughnane slumped to the floor in exhaustion. He had hoped to prove his worth on the international stages with a victory over Healy, but it seemed as though the size difference was just too much for him to overcome despite him regularly competing as a lightweight and a featherweight.
He might have only picked up three wins in his opening 10 pro fights, but Joshua Aveles’ choice to stick with MMA is paying off as he collected his second win as many outings with ACB when he met Leandro Silva. The American now boasts a four-fight winning streak.
Silva had Aveles on shaky legs early in the first, but each time he looked to close the distance to finish the fight, Aveles proved too elusive for him to hit.
Aveles knocked the Brazilian down on multiple occasions but came closest to finishing the fight in the second. Silva was sent down with a left hand, but when he tried to stand up he stumbled, allowing Aveles to come in and land more damaging blows.
Silva had moments of success himself, but Aveles’ experience and pinpoint striking was enough to see him win the unanimous decision.
Russian middleweight Vyacheslav Vasilevsky looked completely dominant on route to a first round rear-naked choke win over former Bellator and Pancrase fighter, Will Noland. Vasilevsky snapped a three-fight win streak for Noland, who had been sidelined for eleven months ahead of the fight.
Alexey Polpudnikov improved his win streak to twelve with a brutal striking display against American featherweight, Donald Sanchez. The Russian exploded out from his corner and hurt Sanchez early with a flying knee, but Sanchez remained on his feet.
Polpudnikov chased him down and connected with a right hand that sent Sanchez down, but the Jackson-Wink fighter rallied to his feet one more time before a left hook to the body ended his night. 24-year-old Polpudnikov has finished 21 of his 24 career wins and improved to 22-4-1 with the victory.
Andrew Fisher and Niklas Backstrom were the first duo to call the judges into action on the night.
Bellator veteran Fisher caused the Swede a lot of trouble with his right hand, rocking him on several occasions in the first and second round on route to his unanimous decision win.
Backstrom was still on shaky legs when he came out for the second round after being on the receiving end of Fisher’s right straight. Despite being in trouble, he did well to stay in the fight and even seemed to get a second wind towards the end of the second round.
The loss is the first Backstrom has suffered since being released from the UFC following his loss to Noad Lahat at UFC Fight Night 69. He carried a three-fight win streak into the fight.
Hometown fighter Sam Boult took a first round submission win over Adam Boussif in their welterweight clash, taking his professional tally to 8-1. The Sheffield fighter took Boussif to the ground with a head and arm trip before he transitioned to the back and secured the rear-naked choke.
Michael Tobin has not had the best start to life with ACB. Coming off his one-sided second round KO loss to Dean Garnett, Tobin was pitted against former Commonwealth wrestling bronze medalist, Mike Grundy, on Saturday night.
Grundy completely dominated the Australian featherweight from top position before he sunk in a guillotine choke with 22 seconds left on the clock in the final round. Tobin has now suffered two losses on the bounce, having signed for ACB as a 12-0 prospect. After the impressive showing, Grundy improved to 10-1.
Welsh bantamweight Aaron Aby took his professional tally to 9-3 with a slick arm triangle in the first round of his bout with Sam Halliday. Aby took the fight to the ground inside the first minute before transitioning into the choke. Halliday tapped with 1.54 left on the clock in the opening round.
Antonio Sheldon took his second win in as many professional outings with a second round rear naked choke victory over Rico Franco. Sheldon smothered Franco in side control before taking his back off a scramble. Franco tried to evade the choke with some effective hand fighting, but Sheldon eventually forced the tap with 45 seconds to go in the second.
Highly touted flyweight Aaron Robinson took a win in his ACB debut, improving to 2-0 as a pro. Ireland’s Adam Caffrey pushed the pace early on the feet but decided to pull guard to attempt an omaplata, and later, an armbar. Robinson escaped the submission attempts, took Caffrey’s back and finished the fight in the first round with a rear naked choke.
Lukasz Pilch scored a devastating 10-second knockout over John Doyle in the second fight of the night. Pilch stunned Doyle with an overhand right before he clipped him with a left hook that sent him hurtling to the ground. Pilch landed two hammer fists before the referee stopped the action.
In the opening fight of the night, Simon Stadnicki recorded a second-round submission win over Ollie Coyne.