M-1 Challenge featherweight champion Nate “The Train” Landwehr made a successful first title defense last night, knocking out veteran Andrey “Iron” Lezhnev in the third round, in the M-1 Challenge Battle in Atyrau main event in Kazakhstan.

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The 30-year-old Landwehr (12-2-0), fighting out of Clarksville, Tennessee, remained undefeated in M1 Global competition, registering his fourth straight victory in M-1 Global competition, six in a row overall. The entertaining American fighter captured his title last July at M-1 Challenge 95, when he knocked out defending champion Khamzat Dalgiev in the second round via punches.

Lezhnev (18-8-0), of Ukraine, went into the match having won nine of his last 10 fights, including the last three in a row. He had only been stopped once in 25 professional MMA fights prior to last night.

As always, Landwehr allowed his opponent to work aggressively in the opening round, but he got caught by a strong left hook, dropped to the canvas, and he was nearly finished. Landweh displayed a granite chin and survived, but Lezhnev controlled the action on the ground in the second round. However, Lezhnev started to show fatigue and in the third round, Landwehr started working more aggressively, landing numerous shots and eventually finishing off Lezhnev on the ground.

In the co-featured event, Kazakhstan bantamweight Sergey Morozov (14-4-0) thrilled the hometown crowd, stopping previously undefeated Bakytek Duishobaev (6-1-0), of Kyrgyzstan, in the opening round.

Popular Russian welterweight Danila Prikaza (11-2-1) recorded a second-round knockout of Brazilian Eduardo “Camelo” Ramon (15-5-0). Undefeated Brazilian flyweight Kayek “Chuck” Alencar improved to 9-0-0 with a third-round submission of local fighter Talgat Zhumagaliyev (1-2-0) in the Fight of the Night. Alencar was dropped several times and his left eye closed during the final round, due to punches landed by Zhumagalivev, but Alencar showed tremendous heart and perseverance to win.

Polish light heavyweight Rafal “Kijana” Kijaczuk (6-0-0) registered an impressive first-round technical knockout of Russian Giga Kukhalashvili (9-5-0). Polish light heavyweight Rafal “Kijana” Kijaczuk (6-0-0) turned in an impressive performance, registering a first-round technical knockout of Russian Giga Kukhalashvili (9-5-0). After this dominant fight, Kijacuk challenged M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Khadis Ibragimov, positioning himself to be considered the top contender.

The highlight of the undercard was former M-1 Challenge featherweight champion Dalgiev’s opening-round TKO triumph over Bayaman Nurmamat (5-2-0), of Kyrgyzstan. Dalgiev, of Russia, made a successful transition from the featherweight to lightweight division.

Kazakh middleweight Murad Abdurakhmanov (6-1-0) knocked out American foe Brandon “The Juggernaut” Bell (6-7-0) via a front kick in round three. Former Pankraton world champion Abylay Tolesh (5-1-0), of Kazakhstan, punched out 20-year-old Russian prospect Sergey Klyuev (6-3-0), also in the third round.

Russian featherweight Mikhail Kuznetsov (7-4-1) decisioned local favorite Nurbek Kabdrakhmanov (1-1-0), and Kazakh bantamweight Assu “Zulifikhar” Almabaev (9-2-0) choked out Kirill “Foma” Fomenkov (5-2-0), of Russia, in the second round.

On the pre-undercard, Kazakh featherweight Sabit Zhusupov (6-2-0) took a unanimous decision from Mate Sanikidze (3-2-0), of Georgia, while Russian lightweight Vasily Kozlov (2-0-0) stopped his Ukrainian opponent, Georgiy Akoshvili (2-2-0), on punches with only five-seconds remaining in the third round.

Nate Landwehr (12-2-0, M-1: 4-0-0), Champion, USA
WKO3 (3:10)
Andrey Lezhnev (18-8-0, M-1: 6-4-0), Challenger, Ukraine
(M-1 Challenge featherweight title)

Sergey Morozov (14-4-0, M-1: 8-3-0), Kazakhstan
WKO1 (4:15)
Bakytbek Duishobaev (6-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0), Kyrgyzstan

Danila Prikaza (11-2-1, M-1: 8-2-0), Russia
WKO2 (4:06)
Eduardo Ramon (15-5-0, M-1: 0-2-0), Brazil

Kayck Alencar (8-0-0, M-1: 0-0-0), Brazil
WSUB3 (2:33)
Talgat Zhumagaliyev (1-1-0, M-1: 0-0-0), Kazakhstan

Rafal Kijanczuk (6-0-0, M-1: 3-0-0), Poland
WTKO1 (2:42)
Giga Kukhalashvili (9-5-0, M-1: 2-2-0), Russia

Murad Abdurakhmanov (6-1-0, M-1: 1-0-0), Kazakhstan
W/TKO 3 (0:10)
Brandon Bell (6-7-0, M-1: 1-1-0), USA

Khamzat Dalgiev (11-2-0, M-1: 8-2-0), Russia
WTKO1 (2:42)
Bayaman Nurmamat (5-2-0, M-1: 0-1-0), Kyrgyzstan

Mikhail Kuznetsov (7-4-1, M-1: 4-3-1), Russia
WDEC3
Nurbek Kabdrakhmanov (1-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0), Kazakhstan

Abylay Tolesh (5-1-0, M-1: 1-0-0), Kazakhstan
WKO/TKO3 (3:06)
Sergey Klyuev (6-3-0, M-1: 4-3-0), Russia

Assu Almabaev (9-2-0, M-1: 1-0-0), Kazakhstan
WSUB2 (3:51)
Kirill Fomenkov (5-2-0, M-1: 1-2-0), Russia

Vasily Kozlov (2-0-0, M-1: 2-0-0), Russia
WKO/TKO3 (4:55)
Georgiy Akoshvili (2-2-0, M-1: 0-1-0), Ukraine

Sabit Zhusupov (6-2-0, 1 NC, M-1: 1-0-0), Kazakhstan
WDEC3
Mate Sanikidze (3-2-0, M-1: 0-2-0), Georgia