Sergei Kharitonov understood his easiest path to victory and that’s exactly the road he traveled down as the PRIDE and Bellator veteran capped off Eagle FC 44 with a statement win over Tyrone Spong.
The Russian wasted no time displaying his dominance on the ground after landing an early takedown on Spong and then he repeated that same strategy once the fight moved into the second round. With Spong trapped under him, Kharitonov started blasting away with punches that gave the referee no choice but to stop the fight to prevent further punishment from being dished out.
The end came at 2:55 in the second round.
“My game plan, yes, I respect his striking, he’s a high-level striker and my game plan was to get minimal damage,” Kharitonov said following his win. “I fought a lot and I have so much respect for Tyrone. He’s a great fighter.
“I want to give huge thanks to [Eagle FC owner] Khabib [Nurmagomedov] for this opportunity. I want to continue to fight for Eagle FC and fight for the belt.”
Known as one of the most vicious kickboxers of all time, it was Spong who was quick to establish his kicking game as he started chipping away at Kharitonov as soon as the fight got started. Just when it looked like Spong was getting comfortable on his feet, Kharitonov rushed forward and snatched a takedown with the powerful Russian landing on top once the fighters hit the canvas.
From there, Kharitonov’s massive size advantage really started to weigh on Spong as he advanced his position, moved into mount and then rained down punches from above. While Kharitonov was in complete control, Spong refused to go away, which allowed him to survive to the end of the round.
Short elbow from Kharitonov cuts Spong open early! #EagleFC44 pic.twitter.com/fLa4hWdjyY— Eagle Fight Club (@EagleFightClub) January 29, 2022
Back on the feet, Spong looked to establish his hands while attempting to stay out of range from Kharitonov rushing forward and putting him back on the ground. Just when it looked like Spong was having some success, Kharitonov managed to put him back on the mat where he quickly jumped into the mount again.
Kharitonov had no intention of letting Spong get back up again this time as he trapped an arm and really started to drop a barrage of heavy punches. When it was clear that Spong wasn’t going anywhere and he was just eating shots in succession from Kharitonov, the referee had no choice but to stop the contest.
Now 4-1 in his past five fights, Kharitonov remains a force in the heavyweight division as the 41-year-old fighter appears ready to stay with Eagle FC after this latest win.
As for Spong, he was understandably upset with the result and he wasn’t ready to declare his intention to take another MMA fight just yet with a possible return to boxing also available to him.
“We’ll see,” Spong said about coming back to MMA for another fight after his record dropped to 2-1 on Friday night. “Obviously, it’s not the result that I wanted. He’s a legend. I knew up front that it was not going to be an easy task. I made some mistakes and I paid for it.”
Here are the full results from Eagle FC 44:
MAIN EVENT: Sergei Kharitonov def. Tyrone Spong via TKO (ground strikes) at 2:55, R2
Rashad Evans def. Gabriel Checco via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Ray Borg def. Cody Gibson via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Ramazan Kuramagomedov def. John Howard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Raimond Magomedaliev def. Anthony Njokuani via TKO (strikes) at 2:49, R1
Dylan Salvador def. Arman Opsnov via TKO (corner stoppage) at 5:00, R2
Yorgan De Castro def. Shaun Asher via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:04, R1
Demarques Jackson def. Miles Hunsinger via TKO (strikes) at :54 seconds, R1
Shawn Bunch def. Firdavs Khasanov via unanimous decision (29-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Loik Radzhabov def. Zach Zane via submission (standing guillotine choke) at 3:23, R1
Ayadi Majdeddine def. Sitik Muduev via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)