French MMA pioneer Gregory Bouchelaghem returned to action for the first time in 17 years and scored a 13-second TKO of Italian Calcio Storico competitor Gianluca Locicero on a remarkable night of fights at Hexagone MMA 10.

The ancient Theater of Orange served as a spectacular backdrop as the event played out in front of 5,000 fans in the historic open-air venue on Friday night.

Bouchelaghem, who represented France on the international stage in Pride, Cage Warriors, and M-1 Global in the early 2000’s, dropped his man with his second punch of the fight as a stiff jab was followed by a hard right that dropped Locicero to the canvas.

The fight could easily have been waved off at that point, but the action continued, as “Greg MMA” landed a series of ground strikes to force the referee to wave off the bout after just 13 seconds.

It gave Bouchelagham an emotional victory on his homecoming, with the sport being legalized in France during his decade-and-a-half hiatus from the sport.

The victory gave Bouchelagham his first victory since a unanimous decision win over Andrey Semenov in M-1 Global way back in 2005, and put the seal on a remarkable night of fights in the historic venue.

Strawweight queen Jean-Francois continues remarkable run

The co-main event saw reigning Hexagone MMA strawweight champion Samantha Jean-Francois pick up her fourth straight victory with a rear-naked choke finish of Argentina’s former ONE Championship veteran Laura Balin.

France’s Jean-Francois came flying out of her corner and immediately unloaded a barrage of Muay Thai knees on Balin. The champion’s clear strength advantage in the clinch was evident as she forced Balin against the fence and punished her with some vicious knees to the body before slamming her down to the mat.

With the fight on the ground, Jean-Francois went to work from side control and looked close to finding a finish, only for Balin too grab a leg in an attempt to snatch a submission of her own.

The champ eventually powered her way free and ended up on top once again as she battered the challenger all the way to the end of the round.

After narrowly missing out on the win in Round 1, Jean-Francois continued her relentless pursuit of the finish in Round 2 as she took the action to the mat again, took Balin’s back and eventually locked up the rear-naked choke to force the tap at the 3:59 mark.

Jean-Francois’ performance saw her continue her remarkable run of rear-naked choke finishes, with each of her last five victories coming via that technique. It also extended her win streak to four, with her last three coming inside the Hexagone MMA cage.

Oudina upsets Gahadza for career-best win

Algeria’s Soufiene Oudina claimed the biggest win of his career with a second-round submission of former BAMMA title challenger and Bellator veteran Walter Gahadza in their welterweight bout.

Both men looked a little nervy early on, with Oudina seemingly wary of Gahadza’s power, while Gahadza seemed keen not to get too wild too early. Eventually, Oudina took the action to the mat and looked to score with some ground and pound, but Gahadza looked arguably the more effective man, despite being on his back. Eventually, Gahadza was able to turn the tables on the Algerian and took Oudina’s back in a bid to work a rear-naked choke. But, despite coming close to locking up the technique, “The Sniper” couldn’t quite find the finish before time ran out at the end of the round.

The momentum appeared to be with Gahadza as the fighters emerged for Round 2, but it was Oudina who came out strong. After an early slip from Gahadza, a big right hand, followed by a takedown, put the Algerian in mount. A salvo of ground strikes followed and, after a brief hiatus as he attempted to lock up an arm-triangle choke, Oudina continued his onslaught.

Eventually, Gahadza was forced to roll over to avoid the punishment, leaving an opening for “Bouzelouf” to lock up a rear-naked choke and force the tap at the 2:14 mark.

‘La Stache’ smashes his way to TKO win

The third time was the charm for five-time world Kempo karate champion and former rock musician Alix Jean-Guillaume as he picked up his first win under the Hexagone banner in his third appearance for the promotion.

Jean-Guillaume defeated 30-fight veteran Cedric Severac with some vicious ground and pound after escaping a submission predicament that threatened to see history repeat itself for the 35-year-old.

Jean-Guillaume’s previous two appearances in the Hexagone MMA cage ended in first-round guillotine choke losses, and for a moment it looked like he could be set for the same fate when Severac tried to lock up a choke as Jean-Guillaume shot in for a takedown. But “La Stache” stayed composed and escaped danger before mounting his opponent and unloading strikes from top position.

With Severac trapped and unable to defend, Jean-Guillaume unloaded a vicious barrage of punches and elbows that left Severac cut and bleeding profusely. The fight could easily have been stopped earlier, but the referee allowed the action to continue until the final 30 seconds of the round, when he finally intervened to wave off the bout with 23 seconds remaining and give Jean-Guillaume his first Hexagone MMA win, and his fifth career victory.

Nobou strikes his way to third-round finish

France’s Axel Nobou overcame some early difficulty to eventually stop former Hungarian international wrestler Roland Szolnoki in their 170-pound matchup.

Szolnoki showed his wrestling credentials early as he took Nobou to the mat, but as the bout wore on, Nobou started to find his form and, by the final round, he was teeing off on his opponent almost at will.

Thankfully, the referee saw the huge striking advantage Nobou possessed and, with Szolnoki busted up and bleeding, the official stepped in and waved off the bout mid-way through the final round to give Nobou his third consecutive victory, and his second straight win under the Hexagone banner.

Spinning elbow gets main card off to spectacular start

In the night’s opening main card bout, French heavyweight Anthony Morel produced a stunning knockout of Senegalese wrestler Adama Diop to earn a spectacular win on his professional mixed martial arts debut.

Diop appeared to be bossing the exchanges early and, as Morel appeared to suffer a big adrenaline dump mid-way through the round, things didn’t look good for the debutant. But, just as Diop looked to load up with his shots, Morel unleashed a spinning elbow that knocked Diop out cold.

Hexagone MMA 10: Official results

  • Gregory Bouchelaghem def. Gianluca Locicero via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:13
  • Samantha Jean-Francois def. Laura Balin via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:59 – for strawweight title
  • Soufiene Oudina def. Walter Gahadza via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 2:47
  • Alex Jean-Guillaume def. Cedric Severac via TKO (ground strikes) – Round 1, 4:37
  • Axel Nobou def. Roland Szolnoki via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:30
  • Anthony Morel def. Adama Diop via knockout (spinning elbow) – Round 1, 2:43

Photos: @Hexagonemmafr (Instagram)