Fresh off his victory over TUF winner Michael Chiesa at UFC on Fox 8, Jorge Masvidal has stepped up to fight Rustam Khabilov sometime in November. UFC Tonight reported, last night that the lightweight fight was official, although no specific date had been set.
If there had to be a consolation prize for not getting to see Khabilov take on Edson Barboza, this is a heck of a consolation. Masvidal has proven to be a top tier lightweight. If not in the top ten, floating just on it's fringes. He's one of the more polished and fluid well rounded fighters in the division, possessing tight kickboxing, a smooth takedown transition game and the potential to pull a submission out of his hat when called upon. His win over Chiesa was impressive, not just for the sheer dominance of the latter half of the fight, but because of the ability he showed in overcoming his trademark slow starts.
It's that very slow start ability, however, that makes Khabilov an especially dangerous fight. Where Chiesa was eventually unable to capitalize on his advantages due to his limited standup and submission arsenal, he was still able to generate quite a lot of offense on Masvidal. Transport those opportunities into a Dagestani man-monster built for suplexing and Masvidal could be in a world of trouble. It's an excellent test for Khabilov to see if he can really hang with the top end of the lightweight division. He's been amazing so far, but has yet to face anything other than the most untested UFC competition. This may even be a little too much too soon, but for a fighter of his obvious skill it should be an opportunity to grow, no matter the result.
For Masvidal, this fight is a little surprising considering his post fight focus seemed to be entirely on the top five of the lightweight division. But for a fighter who has only twice fought less than three times in a year, it's likely that the desire to stay busy was a major determinant. Check back as we'll be sure to keep you updated once a card is announced.