Two years after surviving a life-threatening stab wound, Blagoi Ivanov has fought his way into the Bellator MMA heavyweight tournament final.
It marks Ivanov's third victory since he was hospitalized and placed into a medically induced coma after he was stabbed in February 2012. The Bulgarian heavyweight reportedly lost nearly 100 pounds in the process.
"I feel amazing," Ivanov said after the fight. "I thank God I'm here."
Ivanov made no attempt to mask his strategy in the fight as he shot in immediately on the heavy-handed Johnson. He got the fight to the ground within the first minute, but lost position when he attempted to catch Johnson in a leglock.
A big slam by Johnson moments later drew a large response from the crowd, but Ivanov worked calmly back to his feet. He landed several hard punches to Johnson's chin along the fence before scoring an athletic takedown. He ended the fight with a keylock on Johnson's left arm.
Matyushenko retires after loss to Beltran
Beltran (15-10) produced the tap via north-south choke at 3:06 of the final round in the light heavyweight non-tournament bout.
Immediately afterward, Matyushenko (27-8) officially retired from mixed martial arts.
"I guess it's time," Matyushenko said. "I want to thank the fans for their longtime support. I want to thank all the fighters who I've fought with and trained with. It was a pleasure and a big honor to be part of this brotherhood."
Matyushenko attempted several takedowns throughout the three-round bout, but never came close to taking Beltran down. He held his own on the feet, mostly thanks to a straight jab, but wore down as the fight progressed.
Near the end of the first round, Beltran started to find the range on his right hand. He caught Matyushenko with it repeatedly at the end of exchanges, although never appeared to significantly hurt him. He also landed hard combinations to the body.
In the final round, an exhausted Matyushenko willingly rolled to his back after a failed takedown attempt. Beltran improved position and secured the choke quickly.
Beltran earned his first win since April 2012. He suffered a first-round TKO loss at the hands of Quinton Jackson in November.
McDonough stops Coy in Round 2
McDonough (11-0) punched his ticket to the welterweight tournament final with an upset knockout win over Coy. The finish came 30 seconds into the second round.
In the first round, Coy (14-5) appeared to briefly go out from strikes before waking up and moving just enough for referee Mike Beltran not to stop the fight. He managed to survive the round, but clearly never recovered from the flurry.
Smelling blood, McDonough pressed immediately in the second round. He dropped Coy with a left hook, prompting Beltran to waive the 170-pound contest off.
"We watched a lot of video," McDonough said. "We knew that left hand was there so we drilled it, drilled it, drilled it. Boy, that baby was on point tonight."
Coy tried to impose his will early, as he hunted for trips along the fence. McDonough proved to be a difficult man to get down though, and eventually broke away and created space.
As Coy shot on a takedown, McDonough caught him with a head kick. Coy tried to scramble into a single leg but wound up eating a ton of unanswered punches to the side of the head. He lost his mouthpiece late in the flurry.
Volkov scores highlight-reel KO
A former Bellator champion, Volkov (21-4) dropped Siliga's hands with a knee to the body and followed with a devastating kick to the chin. Referee John McCarthy called the bout immediately as Siliga was clearly out. The official time of the finish was 2:44.
"It was just the exact kick we worked on," Volkov said. "Exactly the one."
Siliga (6-3) wanted nothing to do with Volkov's standup, but couldn't find a way to get the Russian to the ground. He aggressively pursued a single leg takedown at the start of the fight, but Volkov backed up to the fence and defended well.
After a separation by McCarthy, Volkov showed why Siliga might have been weary of him. He landed a hard knee up the middle that hurt Siliga and then the kick that put him out.
Volkov earned the 16th knockout win of his career. The fight also marked the first time Siliga, 43, has been knocked out in a professional MMA fight. He'd been previously knocked out numerous times in his kickboxing career.