UFC 239 Featured Fighter: Ismail Naurdiev

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Ismail Naurdiev UFC Prague
Credit: ACA MMA Facebook

“The Austrian Wonderboy” returns this weekend as Ismail Naurdiev is our Featured Fighter of UFC 239.

International Fight Week is here and the UFC has once again put on a stacked card in Las Vegas, Nevada. This article highlights a fighter that fans should keep a close eye on this weekend. 22-year old Ismail Naurdiev is our Featured Fighter for UFC 239, as he faces Chance Rencountre in a welterweight contest.

Our last Featured Fighter was featherweight Kevin Aguilar (read here), who lost a back-and-forth decision to Dan Ige at UFC Greenville.

Who is Ismail Naurdiev?

Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) is a 22-year old mixed martial artist who was born in Grozny, Russia. “The Austrian Wonderboy” is a welterweight fighting out of Salzburg, Austria. In the UFC, Naurdiev is only 1-0 but impressed heavily in his short-notice debut against Michel Prazeres. Naurdiev defeated the Brazilian veteran by unanimous decision, even earning a 10-8 round over the BJJ black belt.

Ismail Naurdiev’s Style:

Naurdiev is a well-rounded competitor who is primarily a wrestler. However, he has earned the moniker of “The Austrian Wonderboy” due to his flashy kicks and wild spinning attacks. The 22-year old has 11 wins via knockout, and five via submission. In 20 bouts, Naurdiev has reached the judges’ scorecards three times in his MMA career.

Striking:

Even though being a wrestler, Naurdiev does his best work standing. Naurdiev has a variety of spinning attacks that can leave him vulnerable at times, but is deadly when he lands them. His overall kickboxing game is solid and he is a good counter striker. Naurdiev does have flaws though, such as not setting up his strikes, and throwing kicks at punching range. However, Naurdiev does have power in his strikes and his strikes are fired quickly. He has good timing, which was highlighted in his win over Daniel Skibiński. Naurdiev circled away from the fence, and immediately fired a brutal knee that caught Skibiński off guard and was enough to finish the contest in just 40 seconds.

At only 22-years old, Naurdiev has a ton of promise in his standup that is improving from fight-to-fight, but still has some holes within his striking that opponents could exploit.

Grappling:

Being a wrestler first, Naurdiev has good takedowns and displayed his ground game last time out against heavy favorite Michel Prazeres. Prazeres is a third-degree BJJ black belt who currently has 11 submissions in his MMA career. Naurdiev showed impressive scrambling and reversal abilities, being able to reverse Prazeres multiple times to earn top position. The Austrian also defended eight of 11 takedown attempts by Prazeres – which was a weakness of his in previous bouts. Prazeres has beat many fighters with his wrestling, but Naurdiev countered it incredibly effectively. Offensively, Naurdiev is good at taking his foes back – where he has three rear-naked choke victories. Despite having five submission victories, Naurdiev often favors to land ground-and-pound whilst on top and prefers to maintain position over going for submissions.

His last fight with Prazeres on short-notice was really impressive, and seemed to improve on previous weaknesses, like his takedown defense. I believe Naurdiev is a solid prospect and is still continuing to improve at just 22-years old.

Prediction: Ismail Naurdiev vs. Chance Rencountre

Ismail Naurdiev (18-2) faces Chance Rencountre (13-3) on the Fight Pass prelims in a welterweight bout. Rencountre is a former Bellator fighter who currently trains out of Alliance MMA alongside Phil Davis and Dominick Cruz. Rencountre is a grappler who is 1-1 in the UFC. Most recently, Rencountre submitted Kyle Stewart in the very first round back in January after losing his debut to Belal Muhammad. The 32-year old has nine finishes, six via KO/TKO and three via submission.

I believe Naurdiev is just a bit better everywhere and this is a fight in which he should thrive. Rencountre is tough so he might test Naurdiev’s cardio in deep waters but I expect Naurdiev to show why he is a huge favorite here. Expect either a clean-finish or a dominant decision here for “The Austrian Wonderboy” in his US debut.

Featured Fighter Record: 1-1

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