Just 133 days after breaking his leg in his first crack at the Oktagon featherweight title, Belgium's Losene Keita returned to the cage and demolished Niko Samsonidse to finish the job and claim the 145-pound title at Oktagon 50 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Keita's first tilt at the undisputed featherweight crown saw him suffer a broken leg against Mate Sanikidze at Oktagon 45 back in July. And, at the Ostravar Arena, Keita completed a remarkable comeback with a spectacular second-round knockout of German contender Samsonidse.
Samsonidse was expected to bring the toughest test of Keita's career to date, and the German looked sharp and slick in the first round as he clipped Keita with shots from range, and even scored a late takedown on the former interim champion.
But, when Keita emerged from his corner for Round 2, he returned to action looking much more aggressive. He quickly closed the distance on Samsonidse and, as the German looked to unload a combination, Keita answered with a perfect counter right that dropped his man hard.
Keita connected with two big ground strikes to make absolutely sure before the referee dived in to wave off the fight and crown Keita the new 145-pound king.
After the bout, Keita set his sights on former victim Ronald Paradeiser, who had just claimed the vacant lightweight strap (see below). But, with the new 155-pound champ about to enter the lightweight Tipsport Gamechanger pyramid tournament in 2024, it remains to be seen if "The Black Panther" will follow him into the tournament in a bid to reclaim the lightweight crown he never lost inside the cage.
After two prior attempts to capture Oktagon lightweight gold saw him fall agonizingly short, Ronald Paradeiser was determined to make sure his third shot at championship gold ended in victory, and he finally got his wish with a third-round TKO win over former nemesis and ex-two-division champ Ivan Buchinger.
The pair clashed in the co-main event in Ostrava, where Paradeiser lit up Buchinger with slick boxing as he threatened to finish "Buki" in the opening half-round. But, despite appearing to have Buchinger in big, big trouble, Paradeiser opted not to rush his work and the door opened for Buchinger to stage a remarkable fightback as he put "Rony" on the back foot with some offense of his own.
Buchinger continued to attempt to press forward to get inside Paradeiser's long reach, but Paradeiser continually fed the former champion a steady diet of straight punches that snapped back Buchinger's head, and left his Slovakian compatriot with a badly split lip and a nasty cut under his left eye.
By the time the fight had reached the end of the third round, Paradeiser was comfortably on top and, with Buchinger seemingly struggling to find an answer, the former champion's corner opted to pull their man out of the fight, sparking wild scenes of celebration in Paradeiser's corner.
The main card also saw Swedish striker Samuel Bark edge out Vladimir Lengal in a tight, tense matchup that went all the way to a split decision, while Matej Penaz returned from a year layoff to score a 29-second knockout of Ole Magnor.
There was also a hard-earned victory from English lightweight Stefano Catacoli, who defeated Czech fan-favorite Jan Siroky via unanimous decision after stepping in on short notice for his promotional debut.
The night's other English debutant, Ammari Diedrick, was beaten on the scorecards by Hungarian veteran Mate Kertesz.