Oktagon MMA crowned a heavyweight champion in Cologne at Oktagon 49, but the final reckoning didn’t come without some degree of controversy as Germany’s Hatef Moeil defeated Bulgaria’s Lazar Todev on the scorecards after a five-round war at the Lanxess Arena.
Moeil signaled his intent in the opening seconds of the fight as he ran to the center of the cage and immediately started to press forward to put Todev under pressure. Despite closing the distance quickly, Moeil was guarded about his attacks, and looked to pick his opportunities to strike with heavy punches.
For his part, Todev seemed happy to circle from the outside and look to land single shots as he looked to gauge his opponent’s timing. It appeared to pay off late in the opening round as he stung the German with a well-timed counter in the final 30 seconds.
As the fight progressed, Moeil continued to press forward, but Todev looked increasingly comfortable, and connected with stiff, if not full-power, shots as he consistently pinged the Moeil with punches as the German stepped into range. Todev also showcased his 100 percent takedown defense as he smartly stuffed each and every one of Moeil’s takedown attempts throughout the contest.
By the time the fight entered the final three minutes, Moeil’s right eye was cut and closing up, and Todev continued to calmly outbox the increasingly desperate Moeil as the clock counted down.
According to the on-screen stats during the broadcast, Todev outstruck Moeil by 238 punches to 110 over the course of the fight, but the judges’ scorecards did not reflect that disparity as they scored the bout to Moeil with scores of 48-47, 49-46, 49-46 to give the 36-year-old the win, and the heavyweight title.
Despite Germany’s Moeil getting the win, the crowd inside the Lanxess Arena greeted the result with a mixed response, with boos audible as the result was announced. And, if the testy post-fight interviews are any guide, it would be no surprise if we saw the pair running it back in a championship rematch sometime in 2024.
Silva edges Eckerlin
German fan-favorite Christian Eckerlin’s bid to gatecrash the upper echelon of the Oktagon welterweight division ended in a decision defeat as he was edged out on the scorecards by Brazilian veteran Leandro “Apollo” Silva.
Eckerlin came into the bout with eight wins and one no-contest in his last nine outings, but was unable to extend that unbeaten run to 10 as he lost out to Silva, who’s game management and in-cage smarts helped him claim a unanimous decision, and the 28th win of his career.
started the faster of the two, but Silva quickly found his range and connected with straight, fast punches as the bout progressed. One such shot, a stinging straight right, dropped Eckerlin with a minute to go in Round 2. But “Apollo” was unable to turn the knockdown into a finish as he ended up taking damage of his own, courtesy of some smartly-timed upkicks from the German.
The pair continued to battle all the way to the final bell, with all three judges awarding the fight to Silva with scores of 29-28 across the board as Eckerlin fell to his first loss in more than six years.
After his victory, Silva paid tribute to Eckerlin and the German crowd, before calling for a fight with the eventual winner of the Tipsport Game changer finale between Bojan Velickovic and Andreas Michailidis.
Engizek blasts his way to first-round finish
After visa issues scuppered Kerim Engizek’s matchup at Oktagon 49, fans feared the local hero wouldn’t get to compete in his hometown of Cologne. But Hungary’s Adam Horvath gamely agreed to step in on just a couple of days’ notice, and was handed a harsh reward as Engizek claimed a crushing first-round finish to wow the crowd at the Lanxess Arena.
Horvath, perhaps mindful of his short-notice prep, opted to push the pace from the start, and he made things uncomfortable for Engizek early. But as the round wore on, Engizek found his range and started to connect with heavy shots on his opponent. A huge right hand dropped Horvath hard, and a couple of follow-up shots were enough to force the stoppage as Oktagon’s No. 3-ranked middleweight contender staked his claim for a fight in the promotion’s return to Germany when they head to Oberhausen for Oktagon 53 on February 10.
Fry sizzles on Oktagon debut
England’s Corey Fry made a big impression on his Oktagon debut as he handed hometown hero Deniz Ilbay the first defeat of his MMA career after a wild one-round featherweight encounter.
Ilbay came out all guns blazing in the opening exchanges as he forced Fry onto the back foot. But the Englishman recovered his composure remarkably quickly and had some success of his own with a ramrod jab and some well-placed leg kicks before changing levels and taking the action to the canvas.
Fry quickly moved into mount and, after an ill-advised guillotine attempt from Ilbay, Fry moved to “El Pistolero’s” back and went for a rear-naked choke. Ilbay defended the choke well, before Fry went for an arm-triangle choke. Once again Ilbay survived, but Fry switched to an armbar and eventually forced the tap to improve his career record to 5-1.
Stolze bounces back to KO Kalasnik
Germany’s Niklas Stolze returned to home soil and picked up an emotional victory thanks to a first-round knockout of Andrej Kalasnik.
Stolze’s last win on German soil came back in 2019 before three back-to-back losses in the UFC. But his return home to Germany with Oktagon saw him showcase his punching power as he stunned, then finished Czech contender Kalasnik after a lively start to their welterweight matchup.
Bonner makes victorious debut
The main card opener featured the Oktagon debut of former Cage Warriors middleweight champion Matt Bonner, and the Englishman made a solid start to live in the Oktagon cage with a unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated Cihad Akipa.
Knockout artist Akipa headed into the bout with back-to-back knockouts in his last two MMA appearances, but his firepower wasn’t enough to deter the more seasoned Bonner, who mixed up his striking with his wrestling to earn scores of 29-28 from all three judges as he laid down a marker in the Oktagon middleweight division. Expect him to make strides towards a title shot in 2024.
Oktagon 49: Official results
- Lazar Todev def. Hatef Moeil via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – for vacant heavyweight title
- Leandro Silva def. Christian Eckerlin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Kerim Engizek def. Adam Horvath via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:48
- Corey Fry def. Deniz Ilbay via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:35
- Niklas Stolze def. Andrej Kalasnik via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 3:40
- Matt Bonner def. Cihad Akipa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Konrad Dyrschka def. Thiago Silva via majority decision (28-28, 28-27, 29-27)
- Jorick Montagnac def. Steve MacDonald via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Arijan Topallaj def. Roman Paulus via submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 1:40
- Jake McHugh def. Ivan Klevets via submission (triangle choke) – Round 2, 2:32
- Lukas Elias def. Fin Griessmann via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 2:39