There have been dozens of incredible matchups inside the Circle in 2021, but at the end of the year, one particular mixed martial arts contest truly stood out from the rest.
The entire three-round battle was full of chaos and excitement, and it ended with a dramatic highlight-reel knockout for Arslanaliev at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Both of these aggressive, powerful strikers were extra motivated and had something to prove.
Arslanaliev wanted to show the world that his first-round victory from their initial encounter in September 2018 wasn’t a fluke, while the Russian hard-hitter was eager to earn some redemption.
The duo brought the heat from the opening bell. Nastyukhin swung looping shots at his foe and sent him briefly to the mat with a stiff left hook. Arslanaliev rebounded with a takedown, but it didn’t take long for them to be winging punches on the feet again.
A thudding knee from the Turkish star hurt Nastyukhin and left its mark on the Russian’s face, though it didn’t stop him.
In round two, Arslanaliev popped his man with heavy punches and then dragged him to the canvas and swarmed with strikes.
The doctor entered the Circle to check on the Russian hard-hitter’s damaged face, but there wasn’t any quit in him. And once the action resumed, he returned to his feet and started firing.
Things were swinging more heavily in Arslanaliev’s favor, though. The Turkish phenom continued to land his shots and even executed a huge belly-to-back suplex, which sent his rival flying through the air.
It seemed like the Russian had one final salvo left in him.
When the bell rang to begin the third round, Nastyukhin looked determined as he came out of the blocks. However, his punches didn’t have the same firepower they previously had.
Arslanaliev responded with a devastating right, which stunned his man. Then, he drilled the Russian powerhouse with another right hand, which sent him to the mat. The Turkish star immediately followed up with some ground-and-pound to end an epic battle 49 seconds into the final frame.
It was the war fans had anticipated and so much more. Expect to see both athletes back in the Circle in 2022, swinging for the fences and putting on a show.
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