Kicking off UFC Prague, Damir Ismagulov impressed in his second Octagon appearance by dominating Joel Alvarez for 15 minutes.
Damir Ismagulov is a beneficiary of the agreement between M-1 Challenge and the UFC in which champions receive a contract with the world’s biggest promotion. The Kazakhstan native was 6-0 with M-1 Challenge and was set to make his promotional debut against Joe Duffy in December before Duffy pulled out with an injury. Instead, Ismagulov defeated Alex Gorgees by decision and extended his win streak to 12.
Joel Alvarez, an impressive submission specialist, will be making his UFC debut fresh off winning the Ansgar Fighting League lightweight title. Hailing from Spain, Alvarez is 15-1 with 15 finishes, 14 of which have come by submission. 10 of those victories also ended in the first round. “El Fenomeno” is on a 10-fight win streak and was 4-0 last year.
Damir Ismagulov kicked off the action with a body jab, seemingly wanting to fight at range due to his use of jabs and leg kicks. An overhand right clipped Joel Alvarez as he did not get comfortable as quickly as his opponent. Another overhand right landed for Ismagulov followed by a spinning back kick attempt that came up short. Alvarez threw out a three-punch combo, but it was mainly to break up the established rhythm of his opponent. Ismagulov was ahead by a solid margin three minutes in, landing a left hook followed by a left uppercut. Alvarez fired back a successful combination that included a stepping knee and capped it off with a leg kick that connected very cleanly. Still, Ismagulov did not let up, owning the center of the Octagon and pressuring his opponent with his jabs and overhands. A clean first-round for the Kazakhstan native.
The second started immediately with a big right hand from Ismagulov. He landed another leg kick and yet another right hand. Ismagulov went hunting for the spinning back kick again but came up short a second time. Another spinning attack from Ismagulov missed, this time with his fist, but he came right back with a beautiful right straight. Alvarez did not have much to show midway through the contest, as it was thoroughly dominated by Ismagulov. A right hook-left hook combination landed for Ismagulov, who was slowly wearing down Alvarez by the end of the second round.
Ismagulov was not as aggressive to start the third round, throwing out a leg kick and pawing his jab to keep Alvarez honest. He was in position to cruise to a decision victory, and seemed content to do so. Hard body kicks landed for both fighters, then hooks from both sides connected for Ismagulov. Alvarez ticked up his output, but it seemingly just gave his opponent more opportunities to counter. Long kicks were caught and answered by right hands whenever they were thrown.
Damir Ismagulov def. Joel Alvarez by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)