Bruno Machado beat France’s Mickael Lebout in the main event of UAE Warriors 15. The event in Abu Dhabi commemorated the life of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov and there were nine Russian fighters on the card.

The headliner was set to be a lightweight title fight. But with the Frenchman failing to make weight, Machado’s belt was not on the line in a contest that was amended from five rounds to three and took place at a 73kgs catchweight.

The Brazilian landed some potent shots in the first round including a stinging right hand to the Frenchman’s left eye. The champion certainly looked like a man with a point to prove, selecting his punches with precision and landing plenty of brutal low kicks to Lebout’s lead leg.

Clear winner

Machado picked up where he left off in the second round, loading up on the leg kicks and leaving his opponent limping. Lebout, who went 2-1 in the UFC, did rally and landed a decent counter with the jab but was clearly struggling.

He looked for the takedown in the third and sought to switch stances in a vain attempt to protect his beaten left leg. The resilience shown by the 33-year-old was admirable, but Machado showcased his class throughout and emerged the clear winner, taking his record to 15-9 while Lebout falls to 20-11-3.

Constant movement

In the co-main event, Shamil Zavurov secured the 39th victory of his career, earning the unanimous decision against Brazil’s Renato Gomes. A teammate of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s and boasting a 153-0 record in combat sambo, Zavurov scored a knockdown in the first as he gave Gomes a taste of his power.

The Brazilian looked light on his feet and showed constant movement as well as good takedown defence during most of the fight. But Zavurov struck with greater authority and his perseverance paid off as he finally took the Brazilian to the mat in the third.

From there, the Dagestani showed good top pressure, landing several big knees from side control and finishing the fight in the ascendancy. The win sees Zavurov climb to 39-6-1 while Gomes slips to 26-13.

Impressing the audience

Despite the final three fights of the evening going the distance, 8 of the bouts ended by way of stoppage. Carlston Harris delivered a statement first-round victory as he submitted Russia’s 26-year-old prospect Saygid Izagakhmaev.

As Dana White sat watching alongside Nurmagomedov and ‘Lookin’ for a fight’ co-hosts Matt Serra and Din Thomas, Harris was able to shoot and land a clean double leg takedown before locking in a beautiful D’arce choke to draw the tap.

Hailing from Mozambique, the 33-year-old celebrated by mounting the cage and imploring the watching UFC boss to sign him saying,

‘Give me a chance, give me a chance!’

Harris climbs to 15-4 and snaps a four-fight winning streak for Izagakhmaev who slips to 17-2.

Best of the rest

Russia’s Rinat Fakhretdinov is now riding a mammoth fourteen fight winning streak. The 29-year-old certainly would have impressed Dana White as he landed a monster overhand right that left UFC veteran Eric Spicely flat on the canvas in less than a minute. The win extends his record to 20-2 while the American falls to 12-6.

There was an impressive debut for former ONE Championship star, Muin Gafurov. The 24-year-old lost a unanimous decision to John Lineker at ONE: ‘Dawn of Valor’ in October 2019 but returned to winning ways with a dominant win here against Costa Rica’s Walter Zamora.

Gafurov appeared to be the superior fighter in every round, looking strong on the ground and showing off some great striking. The Tajikistan fighter uncorked several powerful lead right uppercuts in the third, and while there was never much doubt over the result, he produced a big slam late on to emphasise his superiority as he climbed to 16-3.

UAE Warriors 15, Abu Dhabi, 15th January
Bruno Machado def. Mickael Lebout via unanimous decision
Shamil Zavurov def. Renato Gomes via unanimous decision
Jesse Arnett def. Elias Boudegzdame via split decision
Carlston Harris def. Saygid Izagakhmaev via submission (D’arce choke)
Muin Gafurov def. Walter Zamora via unanimous decision
Vinicius de Oliveira def Sultan Zholdoshbekov via unanimous decision
Rinat Fakhretdinov def. Eric Spicely via TKO round 1
Abdurakhman Gitinovasov def. William Starks via unanimous decision
Martun Mezhlumyan def. Daniel Vega via TKO round 1
Avliyohon Hamidov def. Louis Jourdain via unanimous decision
Shamil Magomedov def. Jayson Margallo via unanimous decision
Mohamad Osseili def. Elijas Paknys via TKO round 1
Shakhban Alkhasov def Vasile Suprovici via TKO round 1
Leandro Gomes def. Mohamed Karim via TKO round 1
Ramazan Akaev def. Reydemtor Nacionales via submission (Rear naked choke) Round 1
Imamshafi Aliev def. Pim Kusters via TKO round 1