When we last left our heroes...The Sambo tidal wave continues as Ali Bagautinov looks to do what Khabib Nurmagomedov, Rustam Khabilov, and Omari Akhmedov have all done...which is win with their Sambo inspired prowess.
In case you weren't aware here's a list of Ali's credentials : Master of Sports on International level (Russian honor awarded to top sportsmen), Champion of Dagestan Republic in Combat Sambo and Freestyle Wrestling, Prize winner in Russian Championship in Greco-Roman Wrestling, Three-time Moscow Champion in Combat Sambo and Pankration, One-time Moscow Champion in Pankration and Grappling, Four-time Russian Champion in Combat Sambo, One-time Russian Champion in Pankration and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Two-time World Champion in Combat Sambo, Europe Champion in Combat Sambo, World Champion in Pankration, Euroasia champion in MMA, Europe champion in MMA, Russian champion in MMA.
He's coming off a win over Marcos Vinicius in a bout that was a little erratic until the brutal straight right Ali landed on Marcos that had him sheep counting on the octagon floor. He's on a 9-fight wining streak.
What both men can do: It's amazing Elliot is as good as he is. When you watch his fights, he's a little like Brian Ebersole...you don't know how he wins. You just know that he does.
Watching the Jens Pulver fight is an odd experience; he never takes over the fight like you think he should until he does, and soon Pulver is laying on the canvas in a crumpled, depressed heap of cells in response to a brutal jumping knee in the clinch.
This is what Elliot does...he punches from a southpaw stance that is barely even a stance period, as he switches all over the place and even squares up completely at times, lobbing right hooks and left hands and looking for takedowns when he sees them.
As for Ali, he does what you'd expect out of these neo-Sambo specialists; good raw power and a penchant for finding the submission. He has an evil quick left hook that he likes to lunge in with, and yes, a very powerful straight as well. On the ground he does an excellent job of aggressively passing guard.
A lot of guys who pass guard sit around in side mount thinking about their next move, but Ali just goes for it. From side mount to mount to crucific, into armbar...you name it. His fluidity on the ground will take him far if he can keep from...
What both men can't do: doing what he did against Vinicius, which is do too much right away. I'm not totally confidant Ali can run away with this fight though. Elliot is a very tricky fighter, and I didn't give him much chance against Gaudinot because no matter how eccentric his style he is, he looks so lethargic.
I will say that Elliot can win if Ali comes out swinging, and Elliot makes round 2 and 3 an attrition slog. I just don't buy it.
X-Factor: An ouija boar that targets Sambo fighters to prevent them from taking over the world.
Prediction: Ali Bagautinov by Decision.