Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar will clash TODAY (Nov. 9, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 163 from inside CSKA Arena in Moscow, Russia.
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Is Magomedsharipov the next champion from Dagestani? Just a few fights into his UFC career, “ZaBeast” is making a solid case for himself, showing a pretty world-class mix of skills to largely dominate the opposition. This is another stiff test for Magomedsharipov, but it could be the last one before he receives a title eliminator bout. In a similarly short span of time, Kattar has been massively impressive as well. I’d argue that “The Boston Finisher” has actually faced a significantly higher level of opposition than his foe, and for the most part, he’s impressed at every turn.
Both men have displayed a ton of talent, but now it’s time for one to leap into the title mix. Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man.
n Magomedsharipov’s last appearance, he did prove something quite important: he can execute a game plan. “ZaBeast” pretty perfectly neutralized Jeremy Stephens for the first two rounds, first by simply moving his feet and kicking, and then by baiting Stephens to over-commit and capitalizing with his wrestling.
Magomedsharipov’s feet slowed in the third, and that is a worry here, but it didn’t matter much considering he was ahead on the cards. Against Kattar, similar smarts will be necessary.
First and foremost, Magomedsharipov needs to eliminate the jab as much as possible. Switching Southpaw and hand-fighting would be a smart tactic, as would ripping a low kick each and every time Kattar steps with his lead leg. If Magomedsharipov can take away Kattar’s best weapon, his night grows much easier.
In addition, Magomedsharipov’s high kicks and spin kicks should prove effective in limiting Kattar’s head movement. Kattar is a slick boxer, but if Magomedsharipov’s kicks are landing effectively, the Dagestani athlete should be able to do good work with his hands as well.
If none of that works, it might be time to go full Khabib and see if he can simply grind Kattar into dust.
It’s a fine line to walk, perhaps too fine to navigate perfectly. If Kattar is to err more to one direction than the other, I’d much prefer to see the boxer up the pressure and activity for a few reasons.
Kattar’s takedown defense has thus far held up, and he has the experience necessary to survive some bad positions if need be. Plus, if Magomedsharipov has showed a weakness, it’s slowing down later in fights. By forcing a high-pace bout — possibly with some extra wrestling — Kattar increases the odds that his foe tires.
The featherweight division is bursting at the seams with rising new talent, and Russia’s Magomedsharipov -- who gets a long-awaited headlining slot here -- might be the one leading the charge. Magomedsharipov rightfully earned much attention as he worked his way up the Russian scene. His Abraham Lincoln-esque appearance obviously catches the eye, but he worked his way through tough competition without much issue, not only scoring impressive wins but stringing together finishes, as well. Once he hit the Octagon, Magomedsharipov picked up right where he left off, dispatching some of the tougher outs dotting the bottom of the roster before getting a big test in Jeremy Stephens in March. It resulted in an impressive win for the rising Russian, but over the course of three rounds, a lot of Magomedsharipov’s strengths and weaknesses were laid bare. His striking rightfully gets some notice -- he does well to leverage his pipe-cleaner frame -- but the most effective part of the Russian’s arsenal has traditionally been his grappling, as he combines strong wrestling with some impressive creativity that works with his wiry body to wreak some unique havoc. That all was on display for the better part of two rounds before the main weakness in Magomedsharipov’s game, his cardio, started to make itself apparent and allowed Stephens to take over the third round but not win the entirety of the fight. That has led to some intrigue about Magomedsharipov’s next bout, and he dodges a bit of a bullet here. The decisions to add the fight to this card and bump it to a main event were made on short notice, so it will be three rounds instead of five. Still, Kattar should be a difficult opponent, no matter the duration.