Ilia Topuria showed off his highly-touted grappling at UFC Fight Island 5, outmuscling prospect Youssef Zalal en route to a unanimous decision.
Youssef Zalal was looking to stay unbeaten in the UFC when he took on undefeated debutant Ilia Topuria at UFC Fight Island 5. Zalal started his career at 6-0 with five submissions, lost a pair of fights, then won by flying knee to earn a contract on the big stage. Since then, he’s had three impressive decision victories.
Topuria had an impressive career to get him to the Octagon. He was 8-0 with seven submissions and a knockout featuring wins in Cage Warriors and Brave CF.
There was a lot of movement early on from Zalal moving side to side. Topuria was following Zalal around throwing strikes and Zalal tried to keep him at bay with kicks. Topuria finally pressed Zalal against the cage and took Zalal down with a beautiful throw. Topuria jumped on the back and switched to a front choke. He had Zalal in a lot of trouble with a deep guillotine/anaconda but somehow Zalal survived.
To start round two, it was Zalal looking for the takedown deep on the legs of Topuria. There was some good defensive work from Topuria staying upright against the cage. As soon as they broke from the clinch you could see Zalal was tired and Topuria marched forward looking for the kill. Topuria got the takedown and quickly got into the mount and locked in a deep guillotine. Zalal did escape and tried to take the back but Topuria shook him off and got top position.
Again, Topuria timed the knee from Zalal, getting an easy takedown. Very slick grappling was shown as Topuria was floating on top and constantly looking for the submission. Even off his back, Zalal was defending perfectly and moving well. Zalal got back to his feet only to go back down. Zalal threatened with a guillotine but lost it. With a minute left, the fight got back to the feet and Topuria was badly exhausted. Zalal was trying to make the best of it, looking for the flying knee but Topuria landed on top to end the fight there.
Ilia Topuria def. Youssef Zalal by Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)