By securing a win at UFC Moscow, Magomed Ankalaev brings much-needed excitement to the light heavyweight division.
UFC Moscow wasn’t the best nigh for Russian fighters. The card saw seven fighters of Russian origin losing to Non-Russians, which includes the promotional debut of much-hyped welterweight prospect Abubakar Nurmagomedov. However, in this disappointing night for Russian MMA, one fighter managed to overcome a sour debut, Magomed Ankalaev.
HE KICKED HIS CHIN INTO ORBIT! 🌎
— UFC (@ufc) November 9, 2019
Last year when he made his UFC debut, Magomed Ankalaev was undefeated and was the light heavyweight champion of Chechen promotion World Fighting Championship Akhmat. Out of the gate, he was thrown against Scottish submission artist Paul Craig. After dominating most of the fight he was caught in a last-second triangle-choke, which would force him to tap out at 4:59 of round three. What could have been a perfect debut, became a very unfortunate last-second loss. A memorable one, but for all the wrong reasons.
A strong debut means a strong start that can make time in UFC very comfortable for fighters. Without that, Ankalaev had to work harder from there. He secured a Performance of the Night bonus in his next fight, before defeating an overweight opponent after that. Those wins, against Marcin Prachnio and Klidson Abreu, got him back on track This past weekend was Ankalaev’s chance to make himself much more noticeable, and in front of his people.
Not that it was the first time Ankalaev has fought in Russia for the UFC. However, last time Ankalaev fought in Russia he was coming off a loss, and was placed against a fighter who hadn’t won in the UFC. This time, at UFC Moscow, his opponent was a credible fighter, who was on a winning streak. By securing a win and another Performance of the Night bonus he not only established a three-fight winning streak but also sent a very strong message about his arrival in the division.
It must be noted that the light heavyweight division isn’t the most stacked division in the UFC today. Dominated by one of the best MMA fighters of all time, Jon Jones, the weight class is facing a severe shortage in terms of competition and contenders. This win streak should make Ankalaev a fighter to look out for. He may not be someone whom the mainstream fans have noticed just yet, but his record makes him one of the more credible names on the rise.