The Fighting & Entertainment Association made its debut in Odessa, Ukraine Saturday with an event at the city’s Palace of Sports.
Fans were treated to a world-class night of professional K-1 rules kickboxing, with Zhora Akopyan claiming the inaugural FEA Lightweight Title by outlasting two opponents in the -71 kg four-man tournament.
In the evening’s main event, native son Pavel “The Caiman” Zhuravlev showed he’s still a force in international kickboxing with a second-round stoppage of tough Turkish fighter Mehmet Ozer.
-65 kg: Dmitry Dergunov (Ukraine) def. Maxim Krat (Ukraine)-End of Round 2 (Cut Stoppage)
The opener featured a match up between two debuting fighters. Dergunov (1-0) was awarded the victory after Krat (0-1) was unable to continue due to a cut on the forehead near his scalp.
-73 kg: Rotislav Melnichuk (Ukraine) def. Maxim Drobotenko (Ukraine)-Decision
Debuting Melnichuk (1-0), a southpaw, applied pressure to Drobotenko, who looked to keep distance and counter. Not much separated them after three rounds, with the judges voting for the aggressor Melnichuk.
-75 kg: Artem Livadari (Moldova) def. Serghei Drozd (Ukraine)-Decision
Livadari (2-0) scored his second professional victory with a points win over the more experienced Drozd (14-3).
It was a hard-fought bout, with Livadari connecting with the cleaner blows, including some solid right hands, to earn the victory.
-65 kg: Marin Vetrila (Moldova) def. Ivan Zhalo (Ukraine)-TKO Round 1
The 19-year-old Vetrila, a Lion Gym teammate of FEA and KOK champion Constantin Rusu, was too strong for Zhalo (10-3).
Vetrila knocked Zhalo down with a right hand seconds into the bout, and downed him again with a left hand from the southpaw stance. Zhalo continued but after more big blows from Vetrila, the fight was halted.
-53 kg: Funda Alkayis (Turkey) def. Ruslana Vyniavska (Ukraine)- Split Decision
Alkayis (36-6) was effective fighting off the front and back foot en route to a clear points victory over Vyniavska (9-6-1).
The Turkish fighter was accurate with her punches and low kicks and used movement nicely, outscoring the taller Vyniavska.
-65 kg: Oleg Likhtorovich (Belarus) def. Zakhar Pavelko (Ukraine)-Unanimous Decision
Likhtorovich (9-3) got the better of Pavelko (6-3) to get the decision in a well-matched bout. Both men landed some good shots, with Likhtorovich the stronger fighter later in the bout.
-60 kg: Vladislav Melnic (Ukraine) def. Cengiz Lale (Turkey)-Unanimous Decision
Ukraine’s Melnic (8-3) spoiled Lale’s unbeaten record (6-1) in a crowd-pleasing slugfest. Lale landed some good jabs and low kicks during the bout, but Melnic kept coming forward and was the stronger fighter late. Melnic did some good body work, and kept a good work rate during the third round.
-95 kg: Mladen Kujundzic (Croatia) Joao Chapas Silva (Portugal)-Unanimous Decision
Kujundzic (27-10) scored a late knockdown with punches to take the decision in a war against the iron-chinned Silva (28-6-1).
Silva absorbed some good punches in round one, but managed to land some clean low kicks. The shorter (9 cm) Portugese fighter became more aggressive in round two, attempting to pressure Kuzundzic.
Round three saw some great toe-to-toe action. Kuzundjic landed a series of punches that dropped Silva late in the round. Silva arose, and absorbed more good punches but battled until the final bell.
-65 kg: David Mejia (Colombia) Simon Santana (Norway)-Unanimous Decision
Santana landed some good left hooks to the body and low kicks in round one as Mejia pressed behind a high guard.
Mejia (52-8-1) established control in round two, as he backed up Santana (38-14-1) and mixed his attacks nicely. The Colombian continued to pressure Santana in round three, and out-landed him to earn the win in an entertaining and technical bout between quality fighters.
FEA World GP Lightweight Semifinals
-Semifinal 1: Constantin Rusu (Moldova) def. Furkan Karabag (Turkey)-Split Decision
FEA and KOK Welterweight Champion Rusu (22-2-1) survived a scare against young Turk Karabag (12-3).
Rusu seemed on his way to winning round one, when he was unceremoniously dropped by a right hand late in round one. The Moldovan regrouped and landed some solid punches from long range in round two. Rusu continued to get the better of the action in round three, with Kurabag hanging in there and landing a few shots.
Semifinal 2: Zhora Akopyan (Armenia) def. Stanislav Kazantsev (Ukraine)-Split Decision
Akopyan (14-1) won a close decision against the tough Kazantsev (20-8-1) in a bout that started quietly but featured some fierce exchanges in round three.
-71 kg: Artur Zakirko (Ukraine) def. Maxim Spodarenko (Belarus)-Unanimous Decision
Zakiro (21-2) won a decision over Spodarenko (23-12) in a close and technical fight. The Ukrainian scored the better shots late in the bout, and that may have been the difference.
-85 kg: Nicolae Caraus (Moldova) def. Oleksii Vershynin (Ukraine)-Unanimous Decision
Caraus (6-2) mixed his shots nicely, timing Vershynin coming forward, and landing some good left hands and push kicks. On the inside, he scored with some nice knees to the body.
Vershynin’s nose was bloodied in round one, and he seemed to be fading late in round two. The Ukrainian kept coming forward in round three, and connected with a few good blows late.
-Lightweight Tournament Final
Zhora Akopyan (Armenia) def. Constantin Rusu (Moldova)-Decision after extra round
Akopyan became the first FEA Lightweight Champion with a narrow decision win over Rusu. After a cautious first round, the action picked up in round two as Akopyan pressed forward. In the third, Rusu increased his work rate and the fighters were deadlocked on the scorecards after the third.
Akopyan landed some good punches late in the extra round to nick the decision and become the inaugural FEA Lightweight Champion.
Akopyan fights out of the Gridin Gym in Belarus, the same dojo as top fighters Chingiz Allazov and Roman Kryklia.
Pavel “The Caiman” Zhuravlev (Ukraine) def. Mehmet Ozer (Turkey)-TKO Round 2 (Low Kick)-Zhuravlev Wins FEA Interim Heavyweight Title
Fighting in his native Ukraine for the first time in nearly a decade, Zhuravlev secured a successful homecoming with powerful low kicks to earn the FEA Interim Heavyweight Title.
The hard-hitting Zhuravlev (73-11-1) landed a powerful low kick in the bout’s early moments, followed up by a hard left hook to the body.
A Zhuravlev inside low kick was followed by a left hook that appeared to land on the back of Ozer’s head to score a knockdown. Ozer (22-13) seemed to clearly feel the low kick.
Zhuravlev connected with some good right hands upstairs, but Ozer appeared to get more into the fight later in the round.
Zhuravlev reverted to the low kick in round two. After a couple of clean connects, Zhuravlev landed a hard low kick to Ozer’s right leg that had the Turkish fighter in obvious pain for an eight count.
The Turkish warrior was still in obvious pain after the count and was unable to continue.
Zhuravlev added another belt to his vast collection. The Ukrainian has won titles in W5, Final Fight Championship, KOK, GLORY, and Superkombat.
The win ended a seventeen-month layoff for “The Caiman.” Roman Kryklia is the current FEA Heavyweight Champion, so it’s possible an all-Ukrainian battle could take place in the future for the undisputed FEA Heavyweight Title.
The FEA World GP Odessa was broadcast in Ukraine, Russia, and available worldwide via FEA Fights TV.
Daniel Austin commentated at ringside for FEA Fights TV, and Mike Diamondz was the ring announcer.