Slovakian contender Pavol Langer played the role of spoiler as he defeated local hero Alexander Poppeck to capture the interim light heavyweight championship at Oktagon 44 in Oberhausen, Germany.
Langer, who entered the bout as a 2-to-1 underdog with the oddsmakers, went toe to toe with Poppeck over the full five-round duration to edge the verdict on two of the three judges’ scorecards to claim the title by the narrowest of margins, 48-47, 47-48, 48-47.
The win completed a remarkable career renaissance for Langer, who signed with Oktagon back in 2018 with a 6-8 record having lost four of his last five bouts.
But, competing in the Oktagon cage, Langer found the best form of his career, as he racked up three consecutive finishes to get his career under the Oktagon banner off to a flying start.
But inside-the-distance wins over Vyacheslav Ivashchuk, Tomas Pelaska and Lukas Dvorak were followed by a pair of decision defeats to Jorick Montagnac and Daniel Skvor as his momentum hit the buffers and a shot at championship gold seemingly faded away.
A win on the Slovakian regional scene saw Langer earn another opportunity with Oktagon, and victory over German contender Rafael Xavier earned him an interim title fight against the much-fancied Poppeck.
But, in a remarkable performance, Langer recovered well from being badly rocked in the second round to eventually fight back and earn the split-decision verdict on the judges’ scorecards.
Velickovic and Michailidis advance in Gamechanger tournament
The co-main event saw Bojan Velickovic defeat Germany’s Christian Jungwirth after a three-round war that left both men covered in blood, much of it from an enormous cut on Jungwirth’s forehead.
The judges scored the fight 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 for Velickovic, who progressed to the semi-finals of the Tipsport Gamechanger welterweight tournament, where he’ll face former welterweight champion David Kozma in a 170-pound rematch for a place in the tournament final.
Jungwirth, meanwhile, was greeted like a hero by the Oberhausen crowd, who appreciated the Stuttgart man’s all-action fighting style.
The night’s other Tipsport Gamechanger quarter-final saw the tournament’s other German contender eliminated as Mohamed Grabinski was finished in the second round by Greek contender Andreas Michailidis, who locked up an arm-triangle choke to punch his ticket to the semis, where he’ll meet the other remaining competitor, Danish submission specialist Louis Glismann.
The night’s big German winner was light heavyweight contender Rafael Xavier, but his victory was a bittersweet one, as he claimed a TKO victory after his opponent, Poland’s Mateusz Stzelczyk suffered a horrific broken leg mid-way through the third round.
A big title fight was confirmed on the night, as Slovakian ace Ronald Paradeiser defeated UK MMA veteran Andrew Fisher via third-round TKO to secure a championship rematch with the last man to defeat him, reigning 155-pound champ Losene Keita.
Another championship bout was also confirmed, with Jacinta Austin’s first-round submission victory on the preliminary card earning her a matchup against Katharina Dalisda for the vacant strawweight title later this year.
Also on the preliminary card, there was a big win for Polish welterweight contender Lukasz Siwiec, who shut out John Hathaway on the scorecards to claim a huge unanimous decision win over the UFC veteran.
Referee involved in bizarre TKO
And there were bizarre scenes during the bantamweight bout between Antun Racic and Nuno Costa, as Racic picked up a TKO win to earn a title shot with Jonas Magard later this summer. However, the circumstances surrounding the final result were unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Racic was in a dominant position looking to connect with ground strikes as Costa threw up his legs and gripped the cage with his toes to get some purchase to help him work a way out of danger.
The referee saw the cage grab and warned the Brazilian. But, moments later, Costa’s toes were gripping the cage again, and this time the official looked to work them free with his hands. But, in the act of freeing Costa’s toes from the fence, he appeared to give the Brazilian a serious problem with his big toe, with Oktagon co-commentator Luke Barnatt speculating that Costa had sustained a dislocated toe in the incident.
Whatever the injury, a livid Costa was rendered unable to continue and, while a frustrated Racic waited on the opposite side of the cage, medical officials checked out the Costa before the bout was waved off.
After the disappointing nature of his victory, Racic had a tense faceoff with reigning bantamweight champ Jonas Magard, who appeared to find himself in an altercation with one of Racic’s team before being ushered out of the cage.
Oktagon 44: Official results
- Pavol Langer def. Alexander Poppeck via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47) – for interim light heavyweight title
- Bojan Velickovic def. Christian Jungwirth via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) – Tipsport Gamechanger quarter-final bout
- Andreas Michailidis def. Mohamed Grabinski via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 2, 3:02 – Tipsport Gamechanger quarter-final bout
- Rafael Xavier def. Mateusz Strzelczyk via TKO (injury) – Round 3, 2:47
- Ronald Paradeiser def. Andrew Fisher via TKO (flying knee and ground strikes) – Round 3, 1:29
- Hokat Khajevand def. Zdenek Polivka via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:04
- Antun Racic def. Nuno Costa via TKO (toe injury) – Round 1, 3:43
- Lukasz Siwiec def. John Hathaway via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jacinta Austin def. Sofiia Bagishvili via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:19
- Hafeni Nafuka def. Adrian Kepa via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:15
- Hassan Shaaban def. Denis Gondzala via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Photos: @OktagonOfficial (Twitter)