Currently riding a three-fight win streak, Shamil Abdurakhimov will get a taste of the top-five of the heavyweight division when he takes on Curtis Blaydes at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
Two successful heavyweights gunning for contender status will clash in September. Curtis Blaydes has wins in seven of his last eight fights (one of the victories was overturned due to marijuana) with his only losses in the Octagon coming to Francis Ngannou. Shamil Abdurakhimov has won five of six and is on a three-fight win streak. The Russian comes in officially 10th in the heavyweight rankings while Blaydes is fourth.
Curtis Blaydes, a junior college wrestling champion has been a force to be reckoned with since joining the UFC in 2016. After a debut loss to the fearsome Francis Ngannou, Blaydes rattled off six straight victories, defeating longtime veterans Aleksei Oleinik, Alistair Overeem, and Mark Hunt along the way. The streak earned him another shot at Ngannou, who put him down in less than a minute. “Razor” bounced back with an incredibly one-sided victory over rising contender Justin Willis in March.
Like Blaydes, Shamil Abdurakhimov also lost in his promotional debut, suffering a first-round KO at the hands of Timothy Johnson. After recovering with a pair of wins, the 37-year-old was slotted in a main event against Derrick Lewis. Despite dominating the majority of the fight, Abdurakhimov was knocked out in the fourth round. He’s returned to form since then with knockout victories over Chase Sherman and Marcin Tybura and a win over former champion Andrei Arlovski.
UFC 242 will take place on September 7 in Abu Dhabi in a yet to be announced venue. The main event is expected to be a lightweight title unification bout between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champion Dustin Poirier. Also on the card thus far are Belal Muhammad vs. Takashi Sato and Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva.