UFC Columbus (UFC on ESPN 33) is going down this Saturday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The card is headlined by heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Chris Daukaus. Aliaskhab Khizriev (13-0) is finally making his UFC debut after winning his contract on the contender series in 2020. Khizriev was supposed to fight Abusupiyan Magomedov but he’s out, and now Denis Tiuliulin is making his UFC debut on short notice.
Standing at 6’1″
Fighting at 185 lbs (middleweight)
Fighting out of Moscow, Russia
Training out of Evolve Gym
A pro record of 10-5
What to expect from Tiuliulin in the UFC:
This signing was unexpected and surprising. When Magomedov withdrew everyone expected maybe a US-based regional guy to make his debut. But instead, a 33-year-old Russian got the call-up. A lot of that is probably due to his knockout win last year for UAE Warriors. This signing isn’t as bad as I thought going into the tape study. He’s not at all a contender but can bring excitement into the cage.
Tiuliulin is beatable in all areas but in the key is to take him down. He doesn’t have bad initial takedown defense but the more he has to defend, the easier he eventually does go down. Tiuliulin struggles more off his back and it’s because his guard is easy to pass; as well, almost every time he’s taken down he gives up his back. His fight against a really good prospect in Ikram Aliskerov is what gave out the blueprint. Aliskerov a solid wrestler was able to take him down and dominate on top to get the eventual finish.
Where Tiuliulin excels is in exchanges getting hit and returning. That’s why after almost every Tiuliulin win, his face is busted up. He draws guys into the pocket and in exchanges he’s the more dangerous striker. He hits hard and his chin can take a lot of damage resulting in him getting those finishes. Tiuliulin isn’t the most technical but he does throw a one-two just crashing into the pocket. His head sits on the center-line so that’s why you will see him being so aggressive and getting into the pocket.
I’d be confident in saying Tiuliulin will never be in the top 15 and probably not even the top 25. I do see him getting a few wins inside the octagon though. He will be a guy to test younger fighters on the come-up to gauge just how good they are. Tiuliulin is no walk in the park so to get past him you have to be above mid-level.
How he matches up with Khizriev:
Khizriev is going to come out aggressive and will ground Tiuliulin as soon as possible. Khizriev has solid wrestling, smothering top control, excellent ground and pound, and a submission base. That’s just a very bad match-up for Tiuliulin. Khizriev is -800 for a reason and he probably gets it done in under two rounds.