Even aside from the UFC's heavyweight-centric Fight Night card, last weekend was a big one for MMA results, so this week's column will come to you in two parts (plus, we'll play some catch-up with results from the weekend before last).
Things got started with Friday's dependably excellent Legacy FC where, in Atlanta, Georgia, Dhiego Lima made his return to the ring for the first time since his UFC release last May.
Expectations had been high for Lima -- the younger brother of former Bellator champion Douglas Lima -- when he was announced as one of the competitors for TUF 19. And while he did succeed in making it to the finals, he rather failed to wow audiences. Things would only get worse upon his formal UFC debut, with a first-round knockout to Eddie Gordon setting the tone for his relatively brief UFC tenure--a 1-3 run that saw him knocked out in all of his losses.
Lima made a much needed return to the win column last Friday, however, overcoming a tough first round (and some illegal elbows) to best Antonio Trocoli (9-2-0) by unanimous decision. Lima improves to 11-4-0 overall.
Watch Lima vs. Trocoli here.
Also on the card, Dave Vitkay (17-12-1, 3-0 Bellator) out-dueled Cody Wilson (9-2-0) en route to a unanimous decision victory. As you can see by his record, Vitkay had a rough go of it early in his career, but he's currently riding a seven-fight win streak.
Vitkay vs. Wilson is here.
And on Saturday, in Grozny, Russia, Akhmat Fight Club put on another big card, featuring quarterfinal matches for its heavyweight, light-heavyweight, middleweight, and welterweight tournaments.
In the main event, light-heavyweight Maxim Grishin (22-6-0) claimed a unanimous decision over Marcin Lazarz (8-3-0), further entrenching himself as one of the best talents outside the UFC.
Fellow UFC veteran Rodney Wallace (25-11-1, 0-3 UFC, 1-1 Bellator) also seemed poised to advance to the light-heavyweight semifinals, only to be done in, apparently, by poor conditioning. Wallace looked good early against Saparbek Safarov (8-0-0), taking the Russian's back twice in the first to ostensibly surge ahead on the scorecards. However, he was noticeably exhausted by Round 2 and was, unfortunately, unable to answer the bell for Round 3. A disappointing turn for Wallace, considering how in-hand he seemed to have the fight; this latest loss halts a recent win-streak at three.
Safarov vs. Wallace can be seen here.
And in the middleweight tournament, Delson Heleno (29-8, 0-1 UFC, 6-4 IFL) and Aslambek Musaev (7-3-0) put together a conservative couple of rounds before turning the heat up in the final frame, with Musaev finally finding his range and Heleno, on the other hand, finally landing a takedown. In the end, Heleno did just enough to overcome any home-town favoritism to earn a split-decision.
Watch Heleno vs. Musaev here.
As part of the welterweight tournament, TUF 21's Marcelo Alfaya (seen here rapidly becoming one of my favorite TUF contestants of all time) knocked out Anton Radman (12-6-0), sending him crashing to the mat with an overhand right in the waning seconds of Round 1. Alfaya, fighting for the first time since his appearance on TUF, improves to 17-7 (1-1 Bellator, 0-1 WSOF).
Check out Alfaya vs. Radman here.
Fellow Bellator alum Jim Wallhead (29-9, 1-2 Bellator) also advanced in the welterweight tournament, employing an effective mix of dirty boxing and grappling against opponent Gennadiy Kovalev (15-5-0) to earn a unanimous decision.
Wallhead vs. Kovalev can be seen here.
Meanwhile, as part of the heavyweight tournament, Thiago Silva (17-5-1NC, 7-3-1NC UFC) bested former heavyweight Stav Economou (17-5-1) by unanimous decision to advance to the heavyweight semifinals. Economou looked to compensate for his disadvantage on the feet by doggedly pursuing the takedown, but it soon became clear that Silva would also command an advantage on the mat, as the Brazilian ably sprawled, reversed, and established dominant position throughout the fight. It was a fine return to form for Silva, who tastes victory for the first time in nearly three years. Economou, a stalwart of the U.K. scene, drops to 2-1 since 2015.
You can check out Silva vs. Economou here.
Also advancing to the heavyweight semifinals is would-be UFC heavyweight Geronimo Dos Santos (37-16-0), who rebounded from a September submission loss to Bellator champ Vitaly Minakov with a majority decision victory over Dion Staring (34-12, 0-1 Strikeforce).