The UFC 167 main card opens with flyweight action between 7th-ranked Tim Elliott (10-3-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and unranked Ali Bagautinov (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Elliott has won two in a row since dropping his promotional debut, while Bagautinov is riding a nine-fight winning streak stretching back to 2011.
This should be a great fight between an established top 10 guy and a burgeoning talent who could find himself in the thick of title contention with a win tonight. Elliott will hold a size advantage over Bagautinov, much like he did against Louis Gaudinot, but Bagautinov has serious KO power. You can watch the whole pay-per-view event starting at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Elliott: 26 years old | 5'7" | 67" reach
Bagautinov: 28 years old | 5'5" | 65.5" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Before signing on with the UFC, Elliott made a name for himself on the regional scene with a beautiful knee strike knockout of former UFC champion Jens Pulver. A 28-second submission win in his next fight coupled with Darren Uyenoyama's injury resulted in a call-up to the big leagues for Elliott. He replaced Uyenoyama against John Dodson last year, but lost a unanimous decision to the hard-hitting Dodson. Elliott has otherwise dominated both Jared Papazian and most recently Louis Gaudinot to decision wins of his own to move into the top 10 of the division.
Bagautinov is one of the current crop of fighters from the Dagestan and Chechnya regions that have has made waves in either the UFC or Bellator. Already a talented freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestler, Bagautinov is also a World Sambo champion. His MMA career started off a paltry 2-2, but he's stormed through the competition since then. Bagautinov made his UFC debut against Marcos Vinicius in Brazil, and in the third round he uncorked a right hand that put Vinicius down and eventually out. It's Bagautinov's third straight KO/TKO finish on his winning streak, and his first win outside of Russia. Tonight marks his debut on US soil.
Why should you care?
It's one of the leading pre-event candidates for "Fight of the Night", and the winner should see a significant step up in competition. The flyweight division is thin so it won't take much for either guy to be "in the mix".