We finally get a solid lightweight matchup for the main card that involves an interesting clash of styles between two mixed martial artists .
The Match Up
Lightweight Rustam Khabilov -470 vs. Adriano Martins +375
3 Things You Should Know
1. Rustam Khabilov is the most vicious Kumyk person you know. Watch out for his suplex first and foremost. And nevermind his loss to recently turned welterweight blue chip prospect, Benson Henderson.
Hall of fame NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur commented that the toughest player to stop when shooting wasn't just one player in particular, but Russian players in general; whatever voodoo they had over getting a shot to fool the goalie, they had it he said. For some reason Brodeur's comment reminds me the sport's icons; Fedor, Igor, and some of the new blood, like Khabilov akin to Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, and (now) Tarasenko. It's now what kind of punches. It's how the punches go about.
Rustam has loudly announced his arrival to the LW division, and yet there seems to be little hype for the guy in proportion. After beating Jorge Masvidal, Zuffa set him up with a bout with Benson Henderson. He ended up losing to the man with sudden welterweight credibility, but with Jackson's MMA behind him, he's still trending up.
2. Martins is modestly similar to Khabilov in that he's had one tough loss in the UFC that need not derail his status.
Martins made his UFC debut in truly spectacular fashion, beating the exciting Daron Cruickshank by straight armbar. It went a long way in emphasizing Martins' many abilities. Despite being a CBJJO Silver Medalist, to go along with a few other medals in grappling tournaments you've probably never heard of (like the Dumau Cup), he's managed to hone his skills on the feet with just as much conviction.
3. This is a good fight.
I mean, what else is there to know? You have an underrated prospect fighting an underrated veteran; it's good matchmaking. Getting back to the talk about Russian shooters, Khabilov has that strafing, ridge hand style where he loops his punches just enough to evade even a tight defense.
He also possess a wicked right uppercut, like an Ovechkin one-timer. His punches are a little more technical than some of his peers, explaining how he found success against Masvidal. His grappling is elite as well; in close he possess a wicked swivel when trying to turn the corner for effective takedowns off the single, and his raw strength nets him takedowns he might otherwise miss.
It'll be interesting to see how he deals with Martins' raw power. Martins has a silly left hand, and he's very good in making top control a game of pressure and volition rather than a stereotypical analogy to complicated board games. He's strong, and aggressive as he is technical. However, I think his striking has a tendency to stall precisely because he tends to get predictable with his output. The bout isn't near as simple or easy as the odds make it seem like, but I do think after surviving a few scares, that Khabilov should be able to out attrition him with takedowns, clinch wars, and being a walking talking threat on the feet just like Martins.
Rustam Khabilov by Decision.