UFC Saudi Arabia: Muin Gafurov Outduels Kyung-Ho Kang for First UFC Win

Kyung-Ho Kang and Muin Gafurov, UFC Saudi Arabia
Kyung-Ho Kang and Muin Gafurov, UFC Saudi Arabia ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Entertaining bantamweights Kyung-Ho Kang and Muin Gafurov put it all on the line in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Kang came into UFC Saudi Arabia as the owner of a successful 8-4 (1NC) UFC record over the last eleven years. Though Gafurov stood in stark contrast with his 0-2 mark and by being ten years younger, this fight was made because of the exciting, forward moving style of Muin. Kang is also a skilled striker, so fans expected potential fireworks when the fight started.

Gafurov landed the first big strike with a hard calf kick thirty seconds into the fight, and then scored another soon after that took Kang off his feet. The Korean then shot a takedown but Muin used a good base to stuff it and then reversed, landing in Kang’s guard. The Tajik fighter stayed there most of the round, trying to land short ground strikes but not taking risks. Eventually Kyung-Ho executed a butterfly getup, then scrambled to the rear body-lock before jumping onto Gafurov’s back. He tried for a rear-naked choke and though he got close to finishing it, he had little time to work before the round ended.

In round two Gafurov opened up with a big hook but Kang changed levels under the second one and secured a takedown into half guard. He passed to mount within a minute but could do little from there and Muin scrambled out. Kang attacked the reverse triangle choke on the way but Gafurov got up and got a back body-lock. When they separated he landed a big combination that hurt his foe, then attempted a standing guillotine, but Kang got out with a few moments left in the round. On the feet it seemed that every strike Gafurov threw, landed clean, especially in those final seconds of round two.

Kang was the one who came forward to start round three and landed another takedown despite getting hit hard on the way in. He got to mount again, but was again able to do little from there and Gafurov escaped. Muin’s left eye seemed to bother him when standing but he soon got taken down again, though he did just enough to not get flattened out and was able to stand back up into the clinch. Though Gafurov had the outside position, Kyung-Ho was able to land the trip takedown and get on top in side control near the fence. However, Gafurov just stood up in the final ten seconds and landed a big hook, maybe his best single punch in the fight, almost finishing Kang, who barely made the bell.

After a competitive fight that may have been decided in the final seconds, the fans and fighters alike awaited the scorecards. There was little to be tense about however, as every judge awarded him the win by a score of 30-27.

Official Result: Muin Gafurov def. Kyung-Ho Kang by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)