ABU DHABI // The Russian heavyweight Shamil Abdurahimov and the Abu Dhabi-based Brazilian Marcos Oliveira advanced to the final of the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship by winning their semi-final bouts late Friday night.
In a tepid first semi-final, Abdurahimov finally bested Sokoudjou Nkamhoua, of Cameroon, with a barrage of punches midway through the third round to record a technical knockout. In the closing bout of the night at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Oliveira curtailed the dreams of the English hopeful Neil Wain in a doubtless unanimous decision.
Abdurahimov's record improved to 11-1-0; Oliveira's hiked to 5-2-0. They will tussle for the Dh1 million prize next year on a date to be announced.
Oliveira's victory wrung a strong ovation from the near-capacity audience of about 2,000 and loosed a cage celebration featuring exuberant Brazilians, including three who fought on the nine-bout undercard during the evening. Oliveira then promptly proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Carolina, who accepted.
The undercard included two Emirati victors. Ali Mohammed Ali Abdullah Ahli, debuting as a professional in the opening match after training in Dubai, steeled himself and showed a varied repertoire to withstand the Brazilian Luciano Ferreira in a welterweight bout on a split decision, with two judges going for Ahli by 29-28 and one to Ferreira by the same.
In the ninth bout, the Emirati mixed martial arts champion, Hassan al Rumaithi, won a unanimous decision over Paulo Lamberto by stoutly navigating a fiercely combative first round during which al Rumaithi bled profusely from his nose. He turned the match especially with a punishing barrage at the three-minute mark of the second round.