Tokov engaged in a back-and-forth battle over all three rounds with teammate Sharaf Davlatmurodov with both fighters landing solid strikes throughout. The difference was ultimately Tokov’s ability to control the action on the ground after landing several takedowns, which allowed him to rack up control time as well.
In the end, two judges scored the fight 29-28 for Tokov with the third official giving Davlatmurodov the same 29-28 score for the split decision.
“I took a two year break and I’m only going to go uphill from here,” Tokov said after the grueling win. “I promise I’m going to be a champion in this organization. I believe I deserve a title shot, although in this particular fight I wasn’t able to show everything I’m capable of.”
A quick right down the middle caught Tokov’s attention as the action got started with the Russian dropping to the mat momentarily and Davlatmurodov ready to go toe-to-toe with him. Tokov was quick to re-establish himself by closing the distance with the fighters jockeying for position in the clinch against the cage.
While Tokov was the heavy favorite, he was being cautious when engaging with Davlatmurodov, who in return didn’t seem the fear the significant finishing power coming from his training partner turned opponent. Davlatmurodov even managed to bloody Tokov with a well-placed punch that opened a cut over the right eye as the middleweights continued to stand and trade shots.
With Davlatmurodov seemingly matching him on the feet, Tokov opted to start looking for the takedown where he was consistently dragging the fight to the ground. From there, Tokov was able to stay on top and start adding up the control time with Davlatmurodov stuck underneath him.
As time was ticking away in the final round, Tokov started to connect with his most significant strikes on the feet with several counter shots that were consistently catching Davlatmurodov as he moved forward. Tokov and Davlatmurodov exchanged late takedowns with each fighter trying to do enough in order to secure the decision.
It was a razor-close fight throughout but Tokov did just enough to secure the victory as he takes another step forward in the Bellator middleweight division with hopes to one day challenge reigning champion Gegard Mousasi.