Nazim Sadykhov fought Viacheslav Borshchev ending in a draw in...

Nazim Sadykhov fought Viacheslav Borshchev ending in a draw in a lightweight prelim fight at UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

In between the first and second rounds, trainer Ray Longo sent a message to his fighter.

“Pick it up!” Longo barked at Nazim Sadykhov.

Sadykhov obliged, landing a head-kick knockdown and a cut-inducing elbow as part of a striking onslaught that saved him from losing his lightweight bout at UFC 295 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Sadykhov, from Massapequa by way of Brooklyn by way of Azerbaijan, was able to force a majority draw against Viacheslav Borshchev.

One judge scored the bout 29-28 for Borshchev. The other two judges scored the second round 10-8 for Sadykhov, leading to a pair of 28-28 scorecards to create the majority draw.

“That’s why they have 10-8 rounds, to make sure fights like that are a draw,” Longo told Newsday afterward.

Sadykhov and Borshchev earned fight of the night and a $50,000 bonus each.

Both fighters displayed solid and technical striking exchanges, with Borshchev (7-3-1) getting the better of them overall in the first and third rounds. Borshschev outstruck Sadykhov 144-109, but Sadykhov had the edge in control time, 3:32 to 0:10.

In the second round, Sadykhov (9-1-1) staggered Borshchev with a punch, then dropped him with a left kick to the head. Sadykhov pounced on his fallen opponent and landed a brutal elbow that cut Borshchev above his left eye. But Borshchev was able to withstand the onslaught and get back to his feet late in the round.

“We left it all in there,” Sadykhov wrote on Instagram. 

No fourth for Frevola

Matt Frevola’s run of first-round knockouts continued, just not the way he wanted. Instead of being on the happier side of such activity, as he had been in his last three fights, Frevola lost by knockout against Benoit Saint Denis.

The lightweight from Huntington (11-4-1) and the Frenchman (13-1) started off relatively even, with both landing a few strikes and earning some time in top control. But as the fighters were standing in close range near the cage, Frevola circled to his right to get free. Saint Denis was able to pursue him and land a clean left head kick just over the hands of Frevola for the knockout 91 seconds into the bout.

On Veterans Day, Army reservist Frevola and French special forces veteran Saint Denis exchanged salutes afterward.  

‘What’s done is done’

As Dennis Buzukja stood and awaited the official announcement, the look on his face made it clear that this was not the plan.

Not for him. Not in this arena. Not in front of the more than 150 family and friends who came to MSG to watch the featherweight compete at home.

The Staten Island-raised, Merrick-residing Buzukja was not the name coming through the microphone, nor was his hand the one raised by the referee. Rather, those two nods of victory went to Jamall Emmers, who stopped Buzukja via TKO in 49 seconds.

“I got dropped,” Buzukja said. “I didn’t see the shot coming, but when I was down, I was there. But what’s done is done, so that’s really all there is to it.”

Emmers, who missed weight by one pound on Friday and had to forfeit 20% of his fight purse, landed a straight right hand that sent Buzukja to the ground. Emmers moved in and landed several hammer fists before the referee stepped in to stop the bout.

“It was a beautifully timed shot,” said Buzukja (11-4). “There’s really nothing to say. He caught me good. Respect to Emmers.”

Emmers (20-7) controlled the flow of the fight from the outset. He landed 14 of his 20 strikes. Buzukja landed three of seven strikes and was disappointed in not being able to show out in front of his home crowd.

“I at least wanted to put on a fight, put on a show,” he said. “But that’s life. Sometimes things go like that.”

Happy 30th anniversary

Of the nearly 7,500 total fights in the UFC’s 30 years, no fewer than 227 of them have involved fighters who grew up on Long Island or trained predominantly at LI gyms. The Island has produced three world champions (Matt Serra, Chris Weidman and Aljamain Sterling) and one fight between Long Islanders (Bay Shore’s Pete Sell submitted Massapequa’s Phil Baroni at UFC 51 in 2001). 

Quick jabs

Tom Aspinall needed just 1:09 to win the interim heavyweight championship with a first-round knockout of Sergei Pavlovich . . . Alex Pereira stopped Jiri Prochazka via second-round TKO to win the vacant light heavyweight title . . . Queens’ Jared Gordon capped his first hometown fight with a first-round TKO over Mark O. Madsen.

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