ONE Championship and Dana White’s Contender Series alum Muin Gafurov is one of several newcomers on this Saturday’s UFC Vegas 74 card looking to make an impact. Once again housed at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, the latest Fight Night card from the promotion is headlined by flyweights Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi. Gafurov, meanwhile, gets John Castañeda as his debut assignment.
Muin “Tajik” Gafurov
Standing at five-foot-seven
Fighting at 135 lbs (bantamweight)
Fighting out of Dushanbe, Tajikistan/Fairfax, Virginia
Training out of Kaizen MMA
A pro record of 18-4
10 KO/TKOs, 7 Submissions
How will Gafurov fare in the UFC:
Gafurov had success outside of MMA as a Combat Sambo world champion but has a lot of success in MMA as well. He went 3-3 in ONE Championship. He fought on the Contender Series in 2021 and although he was the biggest favorite on the card he lost a close split decision to Chad Anheliger. That was a bad loss in retrospect but Gafurov rebounded going 2-0 in LFA. Last October he won the vacant LFA bantamweight title.
Gafurov can end the fight anyway he wants. On the feet, he has stopping power in his hands and has a few wins coming from a kick. On the mat, he does have seven submissions and throws heavy ground and pound. Gafurov is very wild in his approach but it has worked out in his favor. He throws a lot of power overhands and throws a ton of kicks. Gafurov keeps busy with his output and brings a diverse set of skills offensively. He likes to use a lot of spinning attacks.
Gafurov can end the fight with any second on the feet because of how reckless he is. Saying that, Gafurov is a better wrestler and grappler than anything. I rate his wrestling pretty high and his grappling overall is solid. Scrambling, defensive wrestling, and positional grappling are all top-notch. Gafurov hasn’t won with a submission since 2016 but will still threaten with them and I’m sure there are more submission wins in the future.
I had concerns about Gafurov after the Anheliger fight but it’s a fight I think he wins more times than not. The best thing about Gafurov is he’s got a lot of high-level experience and is still 27. I think he will be a staple in the UFC’s bantamweight division for a long time.
How he matches up with Castañeda:
Castañeda is 2-2 in the UFC and is coming off his fist Fight of the Night bonus. He’s the perfect opponent for Gafurov in his debut. Castañeda is down to throw down and that will make for an exciting fight.
I favor Gafurov in this fight everywhere. He has a clear advantage in the wrestling and grappling department. Castañeda is a more technical striker but he takes more damage and Gafurov hits harder. I’m predicting Gafurov to get the finish inside two rounds.
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