Fringe Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders, Rustam Khabilov (No. 14) and Adriano Martins (un-ranked) went to work (sorta) tonight (Sun., Feb. 22, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 61, which emanated from Gigantinho Gymnasium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Only one man, however, would inch closer to the top of the 155-pound heap. And it was the Brazilian who came away victorious, earning a very cautious, calculated and dull split decision over the Dagestani.
After a minute-long feeling-out process, Khabilov got the action started with a straight right to Martins' body. Two minutes in and that's the only strike until Martins rushes in with a flurry but lands just glancing blows. Khabilov returns fire, missing with a right hand. Martins then barreled in for a takedown, threatened with a rear-naked choke, then maneuvered to top position.
Khabilov got back to his feet after an intense scramble and cracked Martins with an overhand right once the action returned to the center of the cage. Khabilov attempted a takedown of his own, but Martin defended well, forcing the fighters back to the center of the Octagon just before the first round ended.
Very little action and a difficult round to score -- anyone's guess.
Second round starts just as cautiously as the first before Khabilov uncorks another looping right hand that misses its mark. Martins comes charging in, finally, and Khabilov makes him pay with a short right hand. Half-way point of the fight and it's still a "battle for foot position."
Khabilov begins to open up, winging punches and then sneaking in standing elbows as Martins covers up. Martins attempts a takedown, but this time Khabilov shucks him aside. Martins lands a left shortly thereafter, his best punch of the match. Khabilov shoots in for a double-leg takedown and then lands a few shots as he rises to his feet.
Martins whiffs with a big uppercut, but then connects with a huge left hand that drops Khabilov to the canvas just as the bell blares.
Khabilov seems fine after the knockdown, but it might erase all the good work he put in that second round. Regardless, Martins needs to wake up. And he does, putting together a nice combination early in the third and final frame. Khabilov circles and then lands a fancy spinning back kick to Martin's mid-section.
Martins registers his second takedown of the fight and immediately angles for a kimura. It's not there so Martin's works to secure full mount and gets it after a brief struggle. Khabilov, though, is able to escape and then land a flying knee on the stand up at the two-minute mark. He then attempts a takedown, but Martins is able to stop it once again.
With one minute to go, Khabilov hurled another wild right and it send Martins backpedaling toward the fence. He misses with a left at the 10-second mark and Martins uses it to score a critical takedown.
In fact, the takedowns -- combined with the flash knockdown at the end of the second -- more than likely won him the match. That's because he didn't do much of anything else for 15 minutes. Even his hometown crowd booed him when the decision was read.
For complete UFC Fight Night 61: "Mir vs. Bigfoot" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.