BRAVE CF 63 set the perfect tone for the epic Kombat Kingdom series taking place this month. In the first leg of the three-part series, an electric five-fight card lived up to its expectation, delivering four stoppages and one unanimous decision victory.
The main event of the evening crowned a new super welterweight champion after Poland's Marcin Bandel (22-7-1) shocked BRAVE Nation, as he quickly dispatched a fan favorite in Austria's Ismail Naurdiev (22-6) via armbar in less than two minutes of the first round of their five-round title fight.
In the opening exchanges, Naurdiev showcased his lethal striking, hurting Bandel's jaw with crisp boxing before the Pole got a surprising knockdown and quickly transitioned for a submission. Naurdiev did well to avoid a deep armbar, shifting over before the experienced Bandel replied with an even tighter attempt at snatching his arm, forcing the "Austrian Wonderboy" to tap, declaring the humble Bandel the champion of the vacant division and the No. 1 175-pounder in the world.
"Oh, bro!" Bandel exclaimed after the fight. "I won against a really great fighter. I know how good Ismail is. He is a good guy, a good fighter. I knew I had to finish the fight fast. I was a bit angry because he hit me really hard. I think he broke my jaw … but I'm from Poland and I can take it."
Bandel now has 20 finishes, with 19 of them coming via submission.
Speaking on how it feels to be the BRAVE CF super welterweight champion, Bandel confirmed that the golden strap is his new favorite thing.
"Everybody who knows me knows that I have Coke Zero with me wherever I go," Bandel said. "Now, all I will have with me is my BRAVE CF belt. I am so grateful to be here in Bahrain. I really like it here. It is my first time here. Unfortunately, I need to leave early tomorrow morning, but hopefully the guys can invite me back here to train. A big thank you to Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa and to all the people here, you do an extremely good job to support us, you pay us well, and the food is good, too."
In the co-main event of the night, Canada's Brad Katona (12-2) once again broke the hearts of the Bahraini faithful when he dominated Gamzat Magomedov (7-2) over five rounds to retain his BRAVE CF bantamweight title.
From round one to five, Katona was one step ahead of Magomedov. The Canadian's showing was of such an extent that Magomedov was made to look like a shell of the man who has never been dominated in a cage before. Magomedov could only technically score two takedowns throughout the fight, as Katona had incredible movement, takedown defense and supreme cardio, to which Magomedov had no answer. What stood most out about Katona's performance was his lateral movement and crisp boxing that lit up Magomedov from round one. Katona's striking was of such a nature that it opened up the face of Magomedov, something that has almost never happened before in the BRAVE CF cage.
The one moment Magomedov showed a glimpse of his old self was in the fifth and final round where he pulled off a huge hip toss that got the Bahraini fans on their feet, chanting "Gamzat! Gamzat! Gamzat!" What led to that moment was a well-timed kick by Katona that rocked Magomedov off-balance, however, the Bahraini then managed to find the hips of Katona and take him on the "Gamzat Express" before transitioning to top control. Even there, Katona showed that championship mentality as he avoided any damage from his back and remained active throwing elbows to the head of Magomedov, riding out the round and securing his successful title defense.
In the super welterweight number-one contender fight of the night, Russia's Kamal Magomedov (10-0) booked his title fight after a dominating performance against Finland's Olli Santalahti (13-5) over the course of three rounds. It was the first time Magomedov went beyond the first round as he previously finished all his opponents within five minutes, proving that he can maintain his lethal approach over three rounds as he put Santalahti through his paces doing lots of damage to the face of the Finn.
With superior grappling, ground-and-pound and an educated jab, Magomedov cut open the face and head of his opponent on various occasions. Santalahti showed lots of heart by continuing with the bout. However, in the third round the referee was forced to call the doctors in the cage to check the extent of tissue damage and the location of the cuts on Santalahti's head. It was then when the doctors advised the referee to call a stop to the fight
Kyrgyzstan's Nemat Abdrashitov (18-8) put the featherweight division on notice when he put his hand up for BRAVE CF 63 "Fight of the Night" following his devastating knockout of Brazilian debutant Marcos Vinicius Costa (10-6) in the second round.
The opening fight on the card fittingly opened the banging BRAVE CF 63 event when the natural striker, Pakistan's Abbas Khan (4-1) showed his evolution since joining KHK Team Bahrain by producing a beautiful takedown over his Italian opponent and BRAVE CF debutant Michael Reali (2-2) before locking in a beautiful armbar in the first round of their 77-kilogram catchweight bout.
Following today's event, "BRAVE CF 64: African All Stars" takes place this Saturday, before the third and final leg, BRAVE CF 65, concludes the Kombat Kingdom festival next week on Saturday, October 28. For more information on BRAVE CF's Kombat Kingdom series, visit BRAVECF.com.
Official BRAVE CF 63 results include:
- Marcin Bandel def. Ismail Naurdiev via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:20 – to claim vacant super welterweight title
- Champ Brad Katona def. Gamzat Magomedov via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) – to defend featherweight title
- Kamal Magomedov def. Olli Santalahti via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 3, 1:08
- Nemat Abdrashitov def. Marcos Vinicius Costa via knockout (punch) – Round 2, 2:50
- Abbas Khan def. Michael Reali via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:05