Rakim Cleveland put up a fight, but Viktor Nemkov’s wrestling was just enough to take a decision at PFL 3 2019.
Viktor Nemkov is a Sambo world champion who will be making his promotional debut at PFL 3 2019. The Russian is 25-7 in his career with four knockouts and 12 submissions. Nemkov holds wins over UFC vets Ronny Markes and Gadzhimurad Antigulov as well as Bellator veteran Attila Vegh. The 32-year-old is 2-2 in his last four, coming off a loss against UFC light heavyweight Klidson Farias.
Rakim Cleveland will appear on PFL for a second straight year. He got into the light heavyweight tournament last year as the eighth seed after a four-point regular season in 2018. As the eighth-seed, Cleveland was matched up with top-ranked BJJ expert Vinny Magalhaes last year and was subsequently submitted in the first round. Prior to joining the PFL, “The Boogeyman” was 18-9-1 with wins over UFC veterans Brian Houston and Houston Alexander, and multiple fights against Derrick Lewis.
Wild punches were exchanged in close range early in the first round. A two-punch combo followed by a leg kick connected for Viktor Nemkov. Nemkov scored a takedown near the cage. As Cleveland was trying to escape, Nemkov snatched up a D’Arce choke, but Cleveland worked his way out and stood up. Cleveland threw some wild punches inside, including a solid uppercut, but Nemkov responded with a clinch and got another takedown. The Russian tried for another D’Arce, but again Cleveland protected his neck and survived the first round.
After a slow start to the round, a left hand from Cleveland knocked Nemkov down. Hard kicks landed for Nemkov and Cleveland waved him forward. Another solid left hand landed for Cleveland and they traded hooks. Rakim was starting to get a feel for his striking in this round as Nemkov was struggling to get inside. Nemkov shot for another takedown but Cleveland stood tall and hit him with a hard combination.
Heavy hands were exchanged in the clinch against the cage, and Cleveland landed a two-piece after pushing away in the beginning of the final round. They clashed again, but this time, a Nemkov knee landed below the belt. Cleveland took his time, and when action resumed, Nemkov drove hard for a takedown and got it. Cleveland popped back up, but Nemkov stayed on his back, peppering his legs with knees. Cleveland eventually broke free, and Nemkov shot for another takedown. The fighters bounced off the fence into a guillotine attempt for Cleveland. He had it relatively deep, but Nemkov forced his way out, and we are heading to a close decision.
Viktor Nemkov def. Rakim Cleveland by Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)