Victorian-based promotion Australian Fighting Championship made its long-awaited return on Sunday afternoon, after an 18-month hiatus away from operation. AFC 23 took place at the Melbourne Pavilion, and was streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. In the main and co-main events of the show, two title fights were staged in the lightweight and welterweight divisions of the promotion.
Defending welterweight champion, Theo Christakos fighting out of KMA Top Team took on fellow Sydney based fighter Andrew Mills of Team Perosh in the main event, which was a much-anticipated rematch.
Early on in round one, Christakos leaped in with a flying knee and then followed up with a flurry of punches to set up a clinch battle against the fence. Mills reversed the position, and both fighters then decided to separate and proceed to exchange heavy leather on the feet. Round one was very well versed as both fighters took a measured approach with their stand up exchanges and takedown setups. Mills relentlessly attacked for the leg takedown, but Christakos was able to fight off the takedown attempts for a while until Mills managed a big slam and landed in top position. Christakos quickly found his way back to his feet towards the end of the round.
In round two, Mills was again persistent in attacking for the single-leg takedown after brief engagements in stand up exchanges. Mills eventually swooped in for the single, but Christakos was able to reverse and land in the superior position. Christakos sunk in both hooks and moved in for the kill, tightly hanging onto the rear-naked choke until Mills was forced to tap, securing the victory in the later frame of round two.
Christakos called for a shot at the UFC Auckland card in his post-fight speech.
“UFC Auckland in February,” he responded when asked what’s next.
“Put me on there. Let’s go. Six fight win streak. The best team in the world. What else?”
With the win, Christakos retains the AFC welterweight title and moves to 11-2, while Andrew Mills drops to 10-4 following the loss.
In the co-headliner of the event, QLD wrestling specialist David Martinez was matched up against Canberra based Blake Donnelly for the AFC lightweight title.
Donnelly put on a masterclass boxing clinic against his opponent for the majority of the three rounds, until the doctor was forced to put a halt to the bout, due to a bad cut in the later frame of the third round. Donnelly connected with his jab at will and demonstrated great explosiveness, timing, and power in his combinations throughout the contest, Meanwhile, Martinez was also competitive with versatile strikes overhands, hooks and kicks of his own. Martinez left it until round three when he began to aggressively attack for the takedown, but most of the damage was already sustained by then. Donnelly continued to use his crisp boxing to tee off until the fight was put to an end.
With the win, Canberra native Donnelly (4-0) captures the AFC Lightweight title and continues to remain undefeated as a professional. Martinez drops to 6-2 following the result.
Also on the main card, former UFC fighter Rob Wilkinson, from Tasmania, was dominant in his light heavyweight contest win against fellow UFC veteran Dylan Andrews. The 27-year-old secured a guillotine submission in round one while elsewhere on the card, locally based South African Lyle Karam remained undefeated with a third-round TKO stoppage over Luke Howard.
The event was televised live on UFC Fight Pass.