I've said this before, but for every handful of nondescript prospects I find myself talking about there's one really good one. Zubair Tuhugov is that prospect. A Russian Combat Sambo national champion, the 22 year old Tuhugov is already 15-3 in his 3-year MMA career. For those bad at math, that's six fights per year. Tuhugov is a bit hard to track down in terms of training camp, but I know he most recently spent a lot of time at Phuket Top Team, home to Bellator's Anthony Leone. Globo's Combate has the report.
Primarily a striker by trade, the featherweight Chechen, Tuhugov, has only one submission win to his record and just five of his victories have come via TKO. However this belies his slick striking abilities. Unlike some of his current UFC Sambo counterparts, who rely more on timing and dynamism, Tuhugov is a polished, well reasoned striker with great head movement and fast hands. He fights with the confidence of a Sambo champion as well, making him a formidable talent in the ring. He does occasionally wing a few punches, but nothing that wont polish out with time and discipline. Because he favors a more boxing heavy stance he is somewhat more susceptible to takedowns, but gets to his feet well and is a beast in the clinch. Unfortunately for him (or fortunately, if he does well) he's getting top prospect treatment, as he'll be making his UFC debut against promotional mainstay Thiago Tavares in his first fight at featherweight at UFC Fight Night 36 in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil.
Another pair of recently announced signings have been confirmed for the UFC's upcoming Singapore card, which will see South Korean Tae Hyun Bang take on Austria's Mairbek Taisumov. The 30 year old Tae Hyun Bang trains out of Korean Top Team, alongside current UFC welterweight Hyun Gyu Lim, and former UFC middleweight Dongi Yang. He's 16-7 in a fighting career that stretches all the way back to 2004 and includes wins over Jutaro Nakao, Luiz Andrade, and Kazunori Yokota, as well as losses to Takanori Gomi and Jorge Masvidal (both by decision). In fact he's only lost once by stoppage, with the majority of his wins coming via the judges. It's notable as well, that his fights against Gomi and Masvidal appear recent on his record as he took three years off after a loss in 2010, to return with a TKO win in June of this year.
Watching him fight, it's obvious he's got some power in his striking, but he seems to suffer from the classic ill of waiting for his opponent to give him opportunities, rather than creating his own. He carries his hands low looking to counter offense with power strikes. This would be fine if he were a more dynamic athlete, but it appears to be more the product of lacking tools to close distance and create openings. His grappling is a bit hulkish as well, he doesn't appear particularly strong in the takedown and is more likely to try and muscle/drag opponents down from the clinch. It's hard to know how much of this has changed over three years, so he may be more complete now.
Tae Hyun Bang's opponent in his UFC debut will be another newcomer, Austria's Mairbek Taisumov. Taisumov is part of team MMA Vienna which has seen decent success on the regional Eastern European circuits, but has yet to produce any major talents (not eve Nandor Guelmino). At 25 years old, Taisumov sports an impressive 20-4 record for his UFC debut, with 19 of those wins coming inside the distance (in fact the only other is unlisted so it's likely all 20 by stoppage). His losses are all to well regarded competition and he has never been knocked out.
Watching him fight, I can't help but notice that Taisumov looks a bit undersized. He's technically listed as the same height and weight as Tae Hyun, but I wouldn't be surprised if he looked smaller in the cage. His future may be at featherweight in the long term. As far as actual skills, he throws a hard, clubbing right hand with a lot of speed, but not a ton of technique. He does, however, have a beautifully powerful kicking game, one that looks like it could really separate him from the UFC rank and file. Taisumov's sprawl and clinch are also quite nice, a product of his wider, loaded-up striking style. Honestly, with his kicking game and an otherwise well rounded arsenal, Taisumov has all the tools to make a strong impact at lightweight or featherweight, wherever he ends up.
Tuhugov's most recent fight against Vaso Bakocevic:
Bang facing off against Cameron Silva:
Taisumov fighting Niko Puhakka:
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