Russia’s Magomed Ankalaev (14-1) sits on a five-fight win streak inside the octagon. Although two of those wins came in back-to-back fights with Ion Cutelaba, a rivalry that dragged on for the better part of the year.
That all started in February 2020 at UFC Norfolk. A bad stoppage in Ankalaev’s original win led to an immediate rematch, one that was postponed, time and again, by COVID-19. When the fight finally transpired in October at UFC 254, Ankalaev left no doubt, earning a clean knockout of Cutelaba.
Now, it’s on to bigger things. A higher ranked opponent in Nikita Krylov, sitting in the eighth spot in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Ankalaev himself is eleventh.
“It took almost a year to [sort things out with] my last opponent,” Ankalaev pointed out during the UFC Vegas 20 virtual media day this week, speaking to Cageside Press. “I’m really glad and thankful to the UFC that they gave me an opponent which is ranked higher than me.”
Staying busy in 2021, “it’s pretty important for me,” he would go on to say. “As you all know, I’d like to perform as often as I can.” Which is why Anklaev is glad to start out with “such a good test for my skills” in Krylov. And he’s looking forward to more of that in the coming year.
Breaking down the match-up, the 28-year old from Dagestan noted that “Nikita Krylov is a pretty good striker, but in the last fight he demonstrated to everyone that he also can grapple. I’m also basically prepared for everything. I really like to strike, so it obviously will be a cool match-up for the fans. We’ll go for it, and leave everything in the octagon.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 20 (UFC Fight Night 186) virtual media day scrum with Magomed Ankalaev above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 27 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.