Artem Vakhitov post-win. Ben Pontier, GLORY Sports International

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.–Artem Vakhitov (18-5) is officially now the baddest light heavyweight kickboxer on the planet. The GLORY champion successfully defended his title at GLORY 38 on Friday night, earning a TKO victory over Saulo Cavalari (60-5) inside the Sears Centre Arena.

Vakhitov dropped No.4-ranked contender with a right hand early on in the second round and the route was on. Cavalari, to his credit, came roaring back with punches, but the Russian champion sat him down for a second time with another pinpoint combination. Cavalari beat the count once more, but it wouldn’t matter as he continued to fall victim to Vakhitov’s striking display. Moments later, the champion trapped Cavalari in the corner and unloaded on him until referee Chris Wagner stepped in to wave the bout off.

The official time of the stoppage came at 2:43 of round two.

Cavalari was later taken to the hospital for precautionary measures. Vakhitov has now defeated Cavalari two times in three fights, defeating him by unanimous decision at GLORY 28 to win the title last year and losing by split decision at GLORY 20 in 2015.

In the co-main event of the evening, GLORY newcomer Antoine Pinto (137-30-1) defeated Illinois native Richard Abraham (11-4) by split decision and played the role of  professional wrestling heel, drawing boos from the crowd by raising his arms in the air between rounds and giving the throat-slash gesture after getting his hand raised.

Two judges scored the bout 29-28 for the Thai-fighting veteran, while the third scored the contest 29-28 for Abraham.

The split decision was a bit of a surprise as Pinto looked to be in control for the duration of the 15-minute fight. Pinto was a step ahead of Abraham throughout the majority of the three-round affair. He landed a higher volume of strikes and controlled Abraham in the clinch when he surged forward on the attack. In the waning moments of the fight, Abraham looked to have scored a knockdown with a right hand, which knocked Pinto off balance against the ropes and on to the canvas, but referee Chris Wagner did not rule it a knockdown. With the loss, Abraham suffers his first defeat in GLORY competition and is now 4-1 with the promotion.

Ariel Machado (45-8) won the light-heavyweight “Contender” tournament, defeating Zinedine Hameur-Lain (57-15) by knockout in the final, and besting Danyo Ilunga (57-12) in the semi-finals by unanimous decision. With the pair of victories, Machado earned himself the Ramon Dekkers memorial trophy and a future title shot against the current champion, Vakhitov.

The tournament final was a rematch of the GLORY 32 final, that saw Hameur-Lain finish Machado, but his time it would be The Brazilian, who would close the show. Machado had Hameur-Lain hurt in the corner early on and unloaded a nasty left hook to the liver, which crumpled the Frenchman at the 2:43 mark of the first round.

Machado punched his ticket to the light-heavyweight tournament final with a unanimous decision victory over Ilunga. Two of the judges scored the bout 30-26, and the third scored the bout 30-27, all in favor of the Brazilian.

Machado turned it up in the second round and landed several big strikes. He had Ilunga hurt toward the end of the round, but couldn’t capitalize. In the final round, he landed the first knockdown of the fight with just under a minute left. Ilunga protested that it was a slip, but it was the punch that caused him to fall to the canvas.

Hameur-Lain advanced to the tournament final after knocking Collette out with a vicious overhand right, which spun the Virginia native around and sent him face first to the canvas.

The official time of the stoppage came at 2:46 of round two.

Collette, who was the tournament reserve filling in for Zack Mwekassa, falls to 4-3 in defeat. Mwekassa was pulled from the tournament by the Illinois State Athletic Commission early on Friday morning for undisclosed medical issues.

For full GLORY 38: Chicago results click here.