Las Vegas, NV – One is a promising up-and-comer and the other is still looking for some consistency in the UFC. Flyweights Jeff Molina and Zhalgas Zhumagulov met in the octagon at UFC Vegas 55 on Saturday at the UFC APEX.
Molina (10-2) was on a two-fight win streak in the UFC, but overall had won nine straight having not lost a fight since Feb. 2018.
Zhumagulov (14-6) on the other side lost his last bout against Manel Kape in Dec. 2021, and was 1-3 in his UFC stint so far.
With both men looking to solidify their position on the roster, and in the division, this bout seemed to be a crossroads for both men.
Round 1 began as a feel-out process before Zhumagulov made it a grappling battle with a series of shots, takedown attempts, and clinch positions on the fence. Molina was able to stuff every attempt and forced his way out of the clinch and back to the striking game. Molina tried to get the round back with his striking countering well, setting up right hands, and avoiding Zhumagulov’s power shots.
Round 2 began with Molina working the jab and the striking forcing Zhumagulov to circle around a lot more, but ultimately went back to his game plan from the first round. Lot of clinching and takedown attempts for Zhumagulov and he finally scores one in round 2. They got back to the feet, but Zhumagulov landed a clean left hand that may have buckled the knees of Molina for a moment. Round ended in the clinch.
Round 3 began with Zhumagulov seemingly taking on the striking game while circling around to try and rest after two full rounds of grappling. Molina took advantage by putting the pressure on him and landing some shots, but nothing big. Zhumagulov eventually was able to score another two takedown near the end of the round and the fight went to the judges.
Official Result: Jeff Molina def. Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)