The UFC returns to Moscow today for UFC Fight Night 163. The main event of the ESPN+ streaming card features a featherweight matchup between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar.
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Magomedsharipov has steadily climbed the featherweight rankings since he joined the UFC in 2017. Currently the No. 5 fighter in the official UFC 145-pound rankings, Magomedsharipov is 5-0 with the UFC with three post-fight bonus awards and three stoppages. His most recent win was a March unanimous decision victory over Jeremy Stephens. Kattar, who is the No. 11 ranked featherweight, is 4-1 in the UFC with one “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning victory. Kattar, who has three knockout wins with the promotion, is coming off a June knockout victory over former 145-pound title challenger Ricardo Lamas.
In the co-main event, No. 7 ranked heavyweight Alexander Volkov faces Greg Hardy. Hardy enters this contest as a late replacement for former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
Volkov, the former Bellator and M-1 Global heavyweight champion was on a six-fight winning streak headed into his UFC 229 matchup with Derrick Lewis. Volkov looked as if he was on his way to a seventh consecutive victory, but Lewis scored a surprising knockout at the 4:49 mark of the final stanza to steal the fight and end Volkov’s unbeaten run.
Hardy has far less experience than Volkov. Volkov has 37 pro fights, while Hardy has only competed in seven pro bouts. Hardy eagerly accepted the fight against Volkov not long after his October 18 bout with Ben Sosoli ended as a no contest after Hardy used an inhaler in his corner before the start of the third round of the fight.
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One of the fights to watch on the prelims is the welterweight matchup between Rustam Khabilov and Sergey Khandozhko. Khabilov only fought once in 2017 and 2018. He brought a six-fight winning streak into his most recent fight, but that streak came to an end when he dropped a decision to Carlos Diego Ferreira. Khandozhko made his UFC debut in June. He defeated Rostem Akman by decision in that outing.
Over a five-round fight, I think my opinion on this fight might flip due to Magomedsharipov’s questionable cardio but I’ll side with ‘Zabeast’ edging a decision win here.
Kattar certainly has the power to hurt anyone at featherweight and it can easily be argued he has the best pure boxing in the division. Where he has fallen down in the past however was against a patient, kick-heavy gameplan by Renato Moicano.
While Moicano is certainly more ‘meat-and-potatoes’ when it comes to striking offence than Magomedsharipov, the Russian’s more flashy and diverse arsenal should provide more opportunities.
Add in a proven quality grappling game and I think over 15 minutes in front of a home crowd Magomedsharipov should have enough to get the nod.