Mohamed El Jahgdal stepped in at short notice to face UAE Warriors Arabia lightweight champion Mohammed Yahya in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The challenger missed weight so was not eligible for the belt at UAE Warriors 29. But he did put in a spirited performance before getting submitted in the final round.
The challenger made a lively start and was marching forward through punches and legs kicks as well as making good use of the teep. He drove the champion up against the cage, but Yahya looked calm and methodical as he executed a textbook double leg. Moving into half guard he then dished out some ground and pound.
The Dubai fighter landed with a lovely knee to the face late in the round before shooting in once more, but El Jaghdal did well to reverse the position.
Yahya appeared to find his timing in the second stanza and began to land more frequently with the right hand. As the taller fighter, the Emirati used his range to crack El Jaghdal with some slick counters including a lovely left knee.
The Moroccan landed with some clean left hooks to the head and body late in the round but was met with another takedown.
The third stanza continued to encourage a ferocious pace from both men. The 22-year-old kept coming forward looking to land bombs while Yahya remained more measured until he found another takedown – this time coming from the body lock position. From there he showed good top control and smashed his opponent with right hands and elbows.
El Jaghdal produced a spinning back kick in the fourth but again, Yahya responded with the takedown. The Spain-based fighter fought back with a guillotine attempt, but it wasn’t long before the champion was in half guard and dishing out more ground and pound.
The fight followed a similar pattern in the final stanza as Yahya got his opposite number down with less than a minute gone. El Jaghdal scrambled to his feet and landed knees in the clinch.
He then threw some big shots in the centre of the cage but the level change from Yahya was expertly timed as he secured yet another takedown. With just over a minute to go, he locked in the arm triangle and drew the tap. It was an impressive victory 27-year-old as he extends his record to 11-3. El Jaghdal falls to 7-5.