An electrifying kickboxer, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos returned from suspension to take on Abubakar Nurmagomedov at UFC Vegas 74.
Dos Santos had last competed in 2021 with an infamous beatdown of Benoit St. Denis. He had traded losses and wins for four fights before this one and he remains a staple of welterweight who can challenge most fighters. Abubakar Nurmagomedov, cousin of the legendary Khabib, entered this fight on a two-fight winning streak after losing his UFC debut in 2019.
Both fighters came out in the orthodox stance. Nurmagomedov landed a pair of big overhand rights in the opening seconds which backed up dos Santos. Abubakar then shot for a double leg but it was defended. They stayed in the clinch for a long time, dos Santos defended well and landed some good knees to the body.
Halfway through the round Nurmagomedov got in deep on a a double leg takedown with his hands clasped, but Zaleski’s balance was on point though he could still not separate. The final minute finally saw him separate and then a chaotic series of exchanges where Elizeu did land some good strikes. The last ten seconds saw him attempt a takedown of his own but Nurmagomedov defended right as the buzzer sounded.
Dos Santos came out for round two with a massive low kick that drew reactions from everyone present, but both were more measured to start the middle frame. Elizeu landed a big uppercut after that and freed himself from the ensuing clinch. Nurmagomedov was relentless though and got to a rear body-lock; dos Santos had trouble turning to face him but eventually did it and then got free from the clinch. He landed some good strikes at distance but Nurmagomedov inevitably grabbed a hold of him again and held him in the clinch for most of the final minute of the round.
Abubakar finally got his first takedown of the fight in the final ten seconds, but the third round would restart them on the feet, of course.
The final round in this close fight began with the pair trading kicks, which Zaleski seemed to get the better of at all three levels. Nurmagomedov shot his first takedown after one minute but dos Santos defended and quickly escaped the clinch. Zaleski was able to stay off the fence after that, but when he sprawled out a takedown Nurmagomedov was able to reverse the position and get on top. However, Zaleski’s excellent defense held up and he escaped quickly. But the final minute saw Nurmagomedov get a takedown and end up on top, however dos Santos freed himself for a final salvo before the buzzer.
When the final scorecards were read by Bruce Buffer it was 29-28’s all across the board, but it was dos Santos who got two of the 29s and thus got the nod in a razor-thin fight.
Official Result: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Abubakar Nurmagomedov by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)