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Welcome to the UFC, Levan Makashvili

One of the best US based featherweight prospects in the world is on his way to the UFC.

As they say, one door closes, another door opens. A door may have closed for Thiago Tavares, with his announced injury, but a new one has opened for featherweight sensation Levan Makashvili. Tavares reportedly injured his left knee in training, marking his third bout scrapped due to injury since dropping to 145 in early 2014. Makashvili will make his UFC debut on just under two week's notice against Nik Lentz at UFC Fight Night Broomfield on February 14th, in Broomfield, Colorado. So...

Who is Levan Makashvili?

While he just barely missed out on the top 10 of Bloody Elbow's 2015 Featherweight Scouting Report, Levan Makashvili is, without a doubt, one of the top 3 featherweight prospects fighting out of the US. The 26-year old Georgian-American, has made a solid splash on the US regional scene starting back in 2013. Since then "The Hornet" has gone on to win the CFFC featherweight title twice, most recently in a re-match to avenge his only career loss, to former Bellator fighter Alexandre Bezerra. That win, as well as a 6-1 (although possibly closer to 9-1, including unrecorded bouts in his home country) record was enough to get him the call up. Makashvili trains primarily out of Mutant MMA, but has apparently spent some time at Bellmore Kickboxing and Tiger Schulmann as well.

What you should expect:

The baseline for Makashvili is strong. He's a great athlete, a powerful wrestler, a solid, controlling grappler, and a technical striker. In reality, he's a very complete, developing fighter. He strikes well and with power, and there's no one thing he really does poorly. If there were any criticisms to be leveled at Makashvili, it's that he doesn't have the kind of output to really dominate a lot of opponents. His offense, at times, can be downright non-existant from distance. This cost him in his first fight against Bezerra, as he ended up eating a ton of leg kicks.That is something he could correct and it looks like he's made moves in that direction (he was certainly more active in their second fight) but it's something to watch for.

What this means for his debut:

I think it would be hard to bet on Makashvili just on potential alone. He is a great prospective talent and a great rising talent, but Nik Lentz is a hell of a tough matchup on short notice. I'd say Makashvili has the physical tools to compete with (if not beat a fighter like Lentz), but I'm not sure if his striking is consistent enough to keep Lentz from pushing him into the fence and controlling him there. Eventually, if he can work a persistent range striking game, and if he can win at least some of the clinch battles, he has a very solid shot to take away a huge upset win. But, that's a lot of "ifs." I think the more realistic expectation is to look for Makashvili to be surprisingly competitive and take Lentz to a very hard fought decision. Even if he loses this fight, I expect him to look like one of the brighter prospects at 145 lbs.

To get us better acquainted, here's Makashvili's most recent bout against Bezerra for the CFFC title: