Muslim Salikhov showcased his striking skills at UFC Singapore, soundly defeating Laureano Staropoli by unanimous decision and extending his winning streak to three fights.
Argentine Laureano Staropoli was on a seven fight winning streak, putting him at 9-1 in his career, heading into UFC Singapore. The 26-year-old managed to impress in his first two fights in the promotion, aftermaking his debut in November of last year. Staropoli had won both of his UFC bouts, defeating Hector Aldana and Thiago Alves by decision. While Alves was likely the toughest test of his career to date, that goalpost was pushed farther down the field after he was matched up with Muslim Salikhov.
Salikhov, 35, is a decorated kickboxer with a 15-2 professional MMA record full of impressive knockouts. He’d fought three times in the UFC, losing in his debut, but winning his last two bouts. Both of his victories came in knockout fashion, stopping Ricky Rainey and Nordine Taleb in the second round and first round, respectively.
Both fighters were patient in the opening minute of the bout, before each of them fired off spinning strikes that missed their opponent. Salikhov controlled the center of the Octagon, landing a couple of kicks and slightly getting the better of Staropoli in the first exchange of the fight after a couple of minutes. The Russian seemed to figure out his range first, often being the first of the duo to throw throughout round one. It was a very cagey first five minutes, with neither fighter able to take a notable lead.
Salikhov landed the first strike of note in the first 30-seconds of round two, smacking a spinning kick to the side of the head of Staropoli. Staropoli partially blocked the kick, and was able to continue to circle around the outside of the cage. Staropoli then landed a kick to the body of Salikhov, but went to the well shortly thereafter, which Salikhov caught and used to dump the Argentine to the ground. It didn’t amount to much, as the fight quickly returned to the feet. Less than a minute later, the same thing would happen, with the same result.
Once back on the feet, Salikhov kicked up the aggression, unleashing a flurry and sending Staropoli back into the cage. A right hand from the Russian clearly hurt Staropoli. Seizing on the moment, Salikhov rained more than a dozen punches to the head of Staropoli, who managed to cover up and survive the onslaught. The Argentine was eventually able to somewhat recover, get away from the cage, and utilize his defense and movement to make it out of the round.
Staropoli, potentially down on the cards, came out much more aggressive to open the third round. On the front foot, Staropoli pushed Salikhov up against the cage, but quickly found himself defending a takedown. Although he defended the takedown, Salikhov was able to once again take control in the center of the Octagon. Throughout the final minutes of the fight, Salikhov was the quicker and more accurate striker of the two, with his wide variety of shots finding Staropoli on a regular basis. Staropoli held his own, but seemed just a tick behind Salikhov on the feet.
Salikhov pouring it on in round 2! #UFCSingapore pic.twitter.com/MwkoLrngwP
— UFC (@ufc) October 26, 2019
Result: Muslim Salikhov def. Laureano Staropoli by unanimous decision (30-26×2, 29-28)