Credit: James Law, GLORY Sports International

Artem Vakhitov (8-1) returned from injury at GLORY 47 in Lyon, France on Saturday, and dominated Ariel Machado (45-9) from start to finish en route to his third straight title defence.

Vakhitov, 26, was simply masterful, defeating Machado by unanimous decision inside Palais Des Sports De Gerland. Four judges scored the bout 50-44 with the fifth judge scoring the fight 49-45, all in favor of Vakhitov.

The victory was Vakhitov’s first fight since breaking his hand at GLORY 38 during his victory over Saulo Cavalari. The Russian champion knocked Machado down in the second round with a left high kick, but couldn’t land the fight-ending blow. He was relentless throughout the five-round fight, showcasing his skillfully ability to create effective offensive attacks while switching stances. Vakhitov landed a steady diet of jabs to go along with well-timed and accurate combinations, which his Brazilian counterpart had no answer for. Vakhitov improves to 7-1 in the GLORY ring with the victory. Machado, meanwhile, falls to 3-3.

In his post-fight interview with Whitney Miller, Vakhitov admitted (through his translator) he favored his right hand during the fight and vowed to score more knockouts in the future. Next up for the champion will be a title-unification bout vs. interim light heavyweight champion Pavel Zhuravlev, who defeated Cavalari at GLORY 43 in July to win it while Vakhitov was still on the mend.

He may have dropped the GLORY welterweight title back at GLORY 44, but Cedric Doumbe (68-5-1) returned to form and put on a fantastic performance in the co-main event in Lyon, defeating Yohan Lidon (124-36) by unanimous decision. All five judges scored the bout 30-27 for the former champion.

“Sometimes it’s good to have an easy fight, so thank you GLORY for giving me an easy fight,”Doumbe told Whitney Miller after the fight. “I was sure I would win and I won the fight, of course.”

Doumbe did what he does best, utilizing his footwork while attacking from different levels and angles to land strikes with consistency. Of course, he did some showboating throughout the fight, which has become customary for him whenever he steps into the GLORY ring.

Said Doumbe after being asked by Miller about Groenhart, “Murthel, I’m coming for you.”

With the win, Doumbe improved to 5-2 in GLORY competition. Lidon, meanwhile, remains winless in GLORY, falling to 0-2 in defeat.

Abdellah Ezbiri (45-12-1) defeated Anvar Boynazarov (80-21-2) and Azize Hlali (17-15) to win the night’s four-man featherweight “Contender” tournament and the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy.

Ezbiri defeated Boynazarov in the tournament final by unanimous decision. Four judges scored the bout 30-27 and the fifth judge scored it 29-28, all in favor of Ezbiri.

The Frenchman got rocked with a Boynazarov high kick in the opening round, but was not in danger any time after that. He landed a big uppercut in the second round for his best punch of the fight, and relied heavily on low kicks to out land his opponent and earn the nod from the judges.

Ezbiri advanced to the tournament final with a unanimous decision win over Hlali. One judge scored the bout 29-28 with the other four scoring the bout 30-27, all in favor of Eziri. Hlali, who was making his GLORY debut, proved a game opponent in a a competitive contest, but Eziri’s boxing was the deciding factor in the three-round contest.

Next up for Ezbiri will be a showdown against Kevin VanNostrand at GLORY 48 for the interim featherweight title. The winner of that bout will earn a future date against the champion Robin van Roosmalen, who is recovering from an eye injury.

In the opening semi-final bout of the night, it sure looked as if Boynazarov was going to lose a decision as he was getting badly out struck by Fabio Pinca (107-30-4). But the Uzbekistan native stopped Pinca in his tracks with a vicious left hook to score the knock out win. The official time of the stoppage came at the 1:50 mark of round two.