A fight months in the making opened up the UFC 257 card on Saturday. Amir Albazi vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov was originally set for UFC Vegas 15 last November. However, just days out from the event, Zhumagulov was forced to pull out of the bout due to visa issues. That led to the match-up being rescheduled, moved to “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi as part of the UFC’s first PPV event of the year.
Not a bad deal for the flyweight pair, both of whom managed to compete just once in 2020. Zhumagulov dropped his UFC debut to Raulian Paiva, while Albazi picked up a win in his own debut over Malcolm Gordon.
To kick off the opening frame, Zhumagulov was aggressive and wanting to close the distance whilst Albazi was doing work on the outside with kicks. Zhumagulov was having success in the pocket with his hands, especially his jab and was looking for the overhand to follow it but Albazi was evading it within the first half of the round. Albazi started to pressure himself a few minutes into the round, but was countered after missing a knee. Both men clinched against the fence before returning to their striking within the last minute. Albazi’s kicks started to make Zhumagulov switch his stance, but Zhumagulov still remained game and looked for big counters throughout. The round ended with a takedown from Zhumagulov to end on top to close out a competitive opening frame.
Both men went right after each other in the second round, looking to exchange in the pocket. Albazi’s leg kicks started to take their toll, which caused Zhumagulov to stumble. Albazi was pressuring in the second, getting into an early lead into this round but Zhumagulov was looking to wing overhands as Albazi entered punching range. Zhumagulov towards the end of the second frame started going first, and was having success and attempted a takedown but Albazi defended it. Albazi ended the round with a nice knee from the clinch. A good bounce back round from the London Shootfighters flyweight.
Albazi opened up the third with his pressure, looking to draw out the big counters of Zhumagulov. Albazi secured a single leg takedown just a minute into the third round and secured top position full guard before passing to side control and then Albazi took the back. Albazi hunted for the choke for the second half of the third round, but Zhumagulov held it off and managed to get back to his feet with a minute to go. Zhumagulov went after it, winging bombs to end the fight but Albazi circled away and countered wisely to hold off the late surge of Zhumagulov. A competitive bout which Albazi edged over 15 minutes.
After the fight, Albazi declared that he’ll get the finish in his next outing.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
Official Result: Amir Albazi def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)