The UFC's featherweight division is very quietly becoming it's deepest and toughest to navigate. From an established old guard at the top to a thick run of tough, skilled fighters in the middle, down to a pack of rising young prospects at the bottom, there's an argument to be made that no division offers as much promise of action fights every time out than featherweight. With that in mind, FightSport.fi reports that the UFC has just signed another interesting talent, Makwan Amirkhani. He's expected to make his debut at UFC on Fox: Gustafsson vs. Johnson in Stockholm, Sweden. So...
Who is Makwan Amirkhani?
"Mr. Finland" as his also known (following his runner-up placing for said title in 2012), is a 26-year old Iranian-born Finnish fighter out of Turku Muay Thai. It's a fairly new gym, but Amirkhani has also recently spent some time at Allstars down in Sweden. Beyond his training, Amirkhani brings a really decent 10-2 record with him to the UFC. He may only be coming in off a single win after dropping a decision to regional talent Adam Ward, but that loss snapped a seven fight win streak including a victory over uber-prospect Tom Duquesnoy. Amirkhani has a pretty extensive record in greco roman and freestyle wrestling in Finland, prior to his MMA career.
What you should expect:
The baseline of Amirkhani's game is power wrestling. He likes to shoot for a power double, elevate his opponent and hit the big slam. Barring that, he's decent at picking a single leg, and looking for trips or running the pipe to back control for the takedown. That isn't to say, and despite his background, that Amirkhani is a particularly gifted wrestler however. He tends to enter his shots with little or no setup, and if his first attempt gets stuffed, will often pull guard in search of a leg lock or other low percentage submission. Amirkhani is actually a pretty proficient chain grappler, so he doesn't tend to put himself at a lot of risk to take damage when pulling guard, but he can, and has really easily given up rounds.
Otherwise, Amirkhani's striking game is notably low output. He throws occasional kicks and winging punches, most of which are there for him to enter into the clinch and search for takedowns. When he can work his takedown game, Amirkhani has a somewhat over-aggressive grappling style from the top and is prone to give up position searching for submissions. However, he does possess a great submission chain from front headlock position, which is a real quality skill for a young fighter. All told, Amirkhani could have a decent future in the UFC as an action grappler, but he needs to really shore up some holes in his striking and his strategic game to find consistent success.
To get better acquainted, here's his most recent bout, against Yohan Guerin at Cage 26: