Elias Garcia captured the inaugural Oktagon flyweight title at Oktagon 48 in Manchester after Welsh challenger Aaron Aby was stopped between rounds after a keenly-contested matchup at the AO Arena.
The cageside doctor advised the fight be stopped after the second round, with a nasty cut above Aby’s left eye deemed too bad for the fight to continue into the third round, as Garcia picked up the victory, and the Oktagon title.
Aby started out looking sharp on the feet, and stung Garcia with a succession of straight right hands as he countered the American’s forward pressure with well-timed answers. A knee from Garcia opened a nasty cut above Aby’s left eye and prompted a brief stoppage for the cut to be inspected. With Aby declared good to continue, the fight resumed, and the Welshman landed a takedown. With the action on the mat, Aby put the pressure on and connected with a succession of ground strikes as Garcia attempted to fend him off before the horn.
After some lengthy work on the cut by cutwoman Kristie Raby in Aby’s corner, the doctor declared Aby good to go for Round 2, and he came out aggressively as he looked to continue his momentum from the first round. With a clear target to aim at, Garcia was jabbing constant punches in the direction of Aby’s damaged left eye, but it was the Welshman who appeared to be landing the heavier shots.
After edging the striking on the feet, Aby then shot for, and landed, a takedown, though Garcia quickly got back to his feet before the round came to a close.
Then came the moment of heartbreak for Aby as the doctor once again inspected his cut, and advised the referee to wave off the fight before the third round could get underway. It was a crushing moment for Aby, who had fought well up to that point. But Garcia ended up the victor, as he was crowned the new Oktagon champion in anticlimactic circumstances.
Askham edges grueling battle
In the night’s co-main event, former KSW middleweight champion claimed a hard-earned victory after a grueling three-round catchweight battle with Germany’s Marc Doussis.
Doussis, perhaps wary of Askham’s penchant for knockouts, quickly closed the distance and took the action to the mat in the early moments of Round 1, but was unable to land too much in the way of effective offense as Askham tied up the German, then eventually worked his way back to the feet. With the action back in the stand-up, the pair clinched for the remainder of the round, with Askham seemingly dictating terms.
The second stanza started much as the first round ended, with the pair clinching against the fence, and Askham in the advantageous position. The Brit connected with knees to the body as he punished Doussis on the inside, but the German responded with some shots of his own.
Then, with the pair separated, Doussis stunned Askham with a combination, then Askham connected with a perfectly-timed jumping knee that appeared to have Doussis in big trouble. However, the German did enough to stifle the Englishman’s attempts to finish the fight on the ground as the horn sounded to end the round.
It meant the action went into the final round where, after more clinch work against the cage, Askham managed to turn the tables on Doussis as the German looked to finish a single-leg takedown. With Askham in top position, he passed to side control, but Doussis battled back to his feet again. From there, the pair battled in the clinch for a final time as the bout went all the way to the judges’ scorecards, where Askham got the nod, with scores of 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.
Wanliss vs. Bahnik ruled a no contest after flying-knee foul
The matchup between ranked lightweights Akonne Wanliss and Jakub Bahnik was expected to deliver one of the best fights on the card, but an unfortunate foul in the opening moments of the matchup left the fans frustrated as the bout was ruled a no contest.
Wanliss had found his striking range, and some big punches had Bahnik backpedaling towards the fence. Then, with his opponent against the fence, Wanliss launched into a flying knee. Unfortunately, Bahnik also jumped at the same time, resulting in Wanliss’s knee landing hard in the Czech’s groin.
It was a sickening, if accidental, shot, and left Bahnik down and unable to continue as the fight was waved off after just 25 seconds of bout time completed. After the bout, a frustrated Wanliss accused Bahnik of looking for a way out, and setting his sights on some of the division’s other ranked lightweights.
Quickenden wins Stage to the Cage finale with first-round finish
The night also saw the finale of Oktagon’s UK reality show, Stage to the Cage, as reality TV star Jake Quickenden and stand-up comedian Paul Smith swapped their celebrity lifestyles for a full fight camp as they trained for 10 months to compete as professional fighters inside the Oktagon cage.
After both men were greeted with huge ovations from the fans – particularly for Smith – the action got underway with both men looking land leg kicks early. But it was Quickenden whose work looked sharper, and his strikes seemed to have the bigger impact early.
After the action was returned to the cage after a Quickenden fence grab, the pair traded on the feet again and straight punches from Quickenden dropped Smith, prompting the referee to step in and wave off the contest.
After the fight, both men paid tribute to their teams, and their families, after a grueling 10-month journey to fight night. Smith confirmed that he was donating his fight purse to the anti-violence charity Weapons Down, Gloves Up, and implored families in the crowd to get their kids into MMA gyms to help eradicate knife crime from the streets of the UK’s cities.
Cartwright returns in blistering fashion
Former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Jack Cartwright bounced back from his August 2022 loss on Dana White’s Contender Series with a rapid-fire submission victory over replacement opponent Junior Assis to claim an attention-grabbing win on his Oktagon debut, then got involved in a heated in-cage exchange with former champion Jonas Magard.
Cartwright wasted no time in getting Assis to the mat and, after working his way into a dominant position, he locked up a V-lock submission to force the tap and make a big splash on his promotional debut.
Then, after the fight, former bantamweight champion Jonas Magard entered the cage, leading into an expletive-laden exchange as the Dane challenged the Englishman to a bout on the end-0f-year card in Prague.
If the fight gets made, as looks likely, it would produce either an interim champion, or a clear top contender to face reigning champion Felipe Lima in the New Year.
Staines lets his fighting do the talking with fourth-round finish
In the finale of Oktagon Challenge: England vs. Ireland, George Staines delivered a calm, composed performance to dominate, then finish, Denis Frimpong to become the Oktagon Challenge champion.
The fight had been built on the back of a lot of trash talk from Frimpong, whose comments about Staines’ grandmother in the lead-up to the fight had clearly struck a nerve with the Englishman. But, despite Frimpong’s verbal jabs, Stained vowed to save his response for the cage, and he did just that with a superb display, and a fourth-round mounted guillotine choke finish.
The bout opened up with Staines eating a solid straight shot early, but he immediately shot for a takedown as he drove Frimpong into the mat and against the cage. Once there, he didn’t let the Irishman back up as he relentlessly looked to score with strikes from top position. Frimpong remained dangerous off his back, however, and threatened with a triangle armbar that Staines smartly escaped, and connected with a series of upkicks as the Englishman looked to dive in to land more offense.
With the action back on the feet at the start of Round 2, Frimpong looked to get to work with his strikes, but it was Staines who came in flinging fists as he connected with two solid punches before changing levels and taking “The Menace” to the mat. With the action back in his domain, Staines mounted Frimpong against the fence and looked to score with elbows and punches from on top. Frimpong attempted to tie up the Englishman in a bid to force a standup, but Staines ensured he stayed in a dominant position by forcing Frimpong’s back to the canvas and landing strikes from half-guard.
The third round saw Frimpong look to turn the tables on Staines as he landed an early takedown. But the English ace took advantage of Frimpong’s attempted guillotine choke as he easily freed himself and ended up in top position once again, leading to another dominant round for “Saint”.
It was rinse and repeat in the following round, as Staines landed another early takedown, evaded another Frimpong guillotine attempt, and delivered another dominant round. But this time there was a finish on the end of Staines’ work as he locked up a high-elbow guillotine from the mount to force the tap from Frimpong and claim a huge victory, exact some revenge on his tormentor, and win the Oktagon Challenge title.
In the initial aftermath of the win, Staines made his point to a defeated Frimpong, but later revisited his foe and shared a moment of respect with him after their in-cage battle.
Surdu KOs ‘Da Killa King’
In the featured preliminary card bout of the night, Moldovan finisher Ion Surdu claimed the 10th knockout finish of his career with an emphatic first-round finish of third-ranked welterweight contender Alex Lohore.
Both men looked keen to stand and strike, with Surdu quickly taking the center of the cage and popping stiff jabs in the direction of Lohore, who struggled to find his range and timing on the rangy Moldovan. As the round wore on, Surdu began to load up on his shots and, with the first round entering its final minute, he made the breakthrough with a big uppercut that hurt Lohore.
Seeing his opponent reeling, Surdu stepped in and loaded more punches and knees before a final punch sent Lohore face-first to the canvas for a huge knockout victory.
Yousaf continues impressive run
Former IMMAF world champion Shoaib Yousaf underlined his growing potential with a unanimous decision victory over French veteran Konmon Deh in their 150-pound catchweight matchup.
Roared on by the raucous fans who travel to watch his fights, Yousaf showed plenty of poise as he calmly dominated Deh through the opening five minutes, both in the stand-up, and in the clinch. Deh was able to score a couple of takedowns, but on both occasions Yousaf immediately bounced back to his feet.
Yousaf continued to punish Deh in the clinch in the second round as he scored with big knees to the Frenchman’s midsection as he kept his opponent trapped against the fence in the early moments of the round.
After more punishment in the clinch, Yousaf eventually dragged Deh to the mat and set to work on the ground as he looked to work for a submission. Deh established guard, but punished him with punches and elbows from top position.
After a classy show of respect between the pair, the final round got underway with a Yousaf takedown as he immediately established a dominant position on the mat. But, after Deh recovered back to a standing position, the Frenchman took matters to the mat and came close to locking up first a Kimura, then a straight arm lock, but Yousaf stayed composed and eventually escaped to a huge roar from the Manchester crowd. With the fight back on the feet, Yousaf returned to the clinch as he landed more knees until the final horn sounded.
Despite Deh’s third-round rally, Yousaf had done enough to take the unanimous decision victory, with the judges scoring the bout 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 to give “The Assassin” his third straight win, and the 11th victory of his growing career.
Polivka outpoints veteran Chadwick
Czech light heavyweight Zdenek Polivka added a notable name to his resume with a unanimous decision victory over former Cage Warriors middleweight champion Lee Chadwick.
Polivka pushed the pace through the opening round and scored a takedown on the Englishman as he looked to work into a dominant position on top. But Chadwick used his seasoned grappling to nullify much of the Czech’s work on the mat.
Round 2 saw much of the same, but Chadwick showed his submission skills off his back as he twice came close to locking up a heel hook during the round. But Polivka smartly managed to escape on both occasions before pushing Chadwick onto the back foot in the stand-up once again.
It meant the bout headed into the third round, and Chadwick instantly looked to score an early takedown. But Polivka defended well as the action reverted to a stalemate against the fence.
An accidental eye-poke briefly paused the action to give Chadwick time to recover, but when the bout resumed, he was unable to find the finish he needed to secure the victory, as Polivka ran out the unanimous decision victor.
Gelezi leg-kicks his way to victory
In the opening bout of the night, Hascen Gelezi picked up the victory in a battle between rival fighters from Oktagon Challenge.
Team Ireland’s McDonald was making his professional debut against six-fight veteran Gelezi, and he looked at home early on as he competed on level terms with his more experienced opponent.
Gelezi made good use of his leg kicks as he continually punished McDonald’s lead leg throughout the matchup, and those kicks enabled the Team England to take control of the center of the cage through the first round and a half.
McDonald wisely switched from striking to grappling mid-way through the round and scored a crucial takedown as the momentum swung in his favor mid-way through the fight.
With the fight on the mat, “Macavelli” took Gelezi’s back and worked hard to find the opening for a rear-naked choke. And, with 25 seconds of the round remaining, he came close to a finish as he pulled his arm across Gelezi’s throat. However, the Team England man did well to fend off the Irishman’s other hand as he survived the round.
With the fight in the balance heading into the final round, Gelezi returned to his leg kicks, which were having a clear effect on McDonald as the pace of the fight slowed. Those leg kicks effectively kept McDonald at bay until the final 30 seconds of the bout, where McDonald scored a last-gasp takedown in search of a buzzer-beating submission. But Gelezi held on to take the fight to the scorecards, and a decision victory for the man known as “Morning Breakfast.”
Oktagon 48: Official results
- Elias Garcia def. Aaron Aby via TKO (doctor stoppage due to cut) – Round 2, 5:00 – for inaugural flyweight title
- Scott Askham def. Marc Doussis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jakub Bahnik vs. Akonne Wanliss ruled a no contest (accidental low blow) – Round 1, 0:25
- Jake Quickenden def. Paul Smith via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:16 – Stage top the Cage finale
- Jack Cartwright def. Junior Assis via submission (V-lock) – Round 1, 2:15
- George Staines def. Denis Frimpong via submission (mounted guillotine choke) – Round 4, 2:02 – Oktagon Challenge finale
- Ion Surdu def. Alex Lohore via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 4:10
- Shoaib Yousaf def. Konmon Deh via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Zdenek Polivka def. Lee Chadwick via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Hascen Gelezi def. Aaron McDonald via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)