The UFC Fight Night: Struve vs. Volkov preliminary card has wrapped up. Thibault Gouti got things started with a dominant win over Andrew Holbrook, Abdul-Kerim Edilov smashed Bojan Mihajlovic in his UFC debut, Zabit Magomedsharipov wowed with his showing against Mike Santiago, Aleskandar Rakic and Rustam Khabilov both picked up decision wins, lightweight Michel Prazeres extended his winning streak to five, as did Mairbek Taisumov (in extremely violent fashion), and Darren Till kept his unbeaten record intact with a victory over Bojan Velickovic. Here’s how the fights played out.
Darren Till def. Bojan Velickovic by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Welterweights
Velickovic was active with leg kicks, although Liverpool’s Till grinned and shook his head no. Till drew first blood (literally) with a superb inside elbow that floored Velickovic. Incredibly, Velickovic survived the ground strikes and avoided getting KO’d. They returned to their feet, even hugged each other and resumed action. Till cracked Bojan with a stellar counter left hand and controlled the range for the remainder of the round.
The lead leg of Till was swelling through the kicks of Velickovic, but the best punches were courtesy of Till. He beat up the Serbian fighter with vicious elbows from top position in round 2. The leg kicks kept piling up for Velickovic for the rest of the round, and it was almost all of his successful offense.
One of the better exchanges in round 3 saw Till slam home the left hand, but Velickovic answered with a right hook. Another left by Till floored Velickovic and Darren threw hammerfists in search of the finish. Velickovic again avoided getting finished, and Till tried to get the crowd pumped by raising his arms in the air. Till went for a spinning elbow, which missed, and Velickovic applauded the effort. It was a fun scrap, and a clear victory for Till, who is 3-0-1 in the UFC. Velickovic drops to 2-2-1 over his last five Octagon appearances.
Mairbek Taisumov def. Felipe Silva by KO (punch) at 1:24 of round 1 - Lightweights
Taisumov almost certainly earned himself a $50,000 bonus for his absurdly powerful one-punch knockout of Felipe Silva. It was essentially the first real strike Taisumov landed and it put Silva to sleep. That’s five straight finishes for Taisumov and an overall UFC record of 6-1.
Michel Prazeres def. Mads Burnell by submission (north-south choke) at 1:26 of round 3 - Lightweights
The Brazilian used a front headlock to put Burnell down, and he advanced to side control within two minutes. Prazeres outgrappled Burnell throughout the first round, so much so that Burnell’s successful escape was met with an immediate takedown. Prazeres briefly had mount before Burnell recovered half-guard, and the round ended.
Prazeres and Burnell traded good punches in close quarters to begin round 2. Burnell clipped Prazeres with a left hook before “Trator” again took the debutant down. Again Prazeres was able to get full mount, and he searched for an arm-triangle choke. The submission didn’t come to fruition but it was nevertheless another round comfortably in Przeres’ favor.
It appeared as if a left hook to the temple caught Burnell and had him buzzed. After a knee got through, Prazeres put Burnell on his back yet again, much to the crowd’s annoyance. Prazeres transitioned to north-south position, locked in the choke, and Burnell tapped out. We seldom see north-south choke finishes in the UFC, and Prazeres has managed them in consecutive fights. Denmark’s Burnell comes up well short in his first foray into the Octagon. It should be noted that Prazeres missed weight, so 20% of his purse has gone to Burnell.
Rustam Khabilov def. Desmond Green by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) - Lightweights
Khabilov went for the suplex on Green early, and Desmond did well to recover and quickly scramble to his feet. After some good early striking exchanges, Khabilovshowed off his strength and put Green to the canvas, if only momentarily. The combat sambo specialist had the advantage in round 1, cracking Green with an uppercut. Green returned fire with a straight left from southpaw.
The intensity from both men was clearly on display throughout the fight. Green had success with his lead leg kicks, while Khabilov was connecting more cleanly with his punches. A straight left clipped Khabilov as he ducked for a takedown, and then a right hand by Green had him reeling a bit on the reset. Round 2 was an improvement for Green offensively, and the takedowns that were previously there for Khabilov in round 1 failed to materialize. Khabilov was still the aggressor and thus had some good moments in an otherwise tightly-contested bout.
Khabilov continued to throw primarily single strikes in hopes of landing a big power punch. His nose was bloodied from some solid shots thrown by Green. There wasn’t much to separate either fighter, as the number of flush strikes scoring wasn’t particularly high. Khabilov struggled to find his range, though he was initiating a lot of the stand-up battles and had some good moments on the counter. Green closed out the fight with a great takedown and then back control, but there wasn’t enough time for him to mount anything significant. It was arguably Green’s best round, and it still didn’t matter on the scorecards. Khabilov has won five straight, while Green is unable to improve his UFC record to 2-0.
Aleksandar Rakic def. Francimar Barroso by unanimous decision (30-27 x3) - Light Heavyweights
Rakic landed the best shots of the opening frame, catching the Brazilian with an uppercut and later a strong right hand. Another overhand right scored for the Austrian at the start of round 2, as Barroso fought mostly off of his backfoot. Barroso tried timing Rakic’s kicks so that he could get a takedown, only for Rakic to slip out and stay upright. The Brazilian finally used the body lock to put Rakic on his back late in the 2nd. Barroso offered little on top, Rakic escaped, and he teed off with big shots, sensing Barroso may be hurt and/or fatigued. Rakic was taken down once more as the round drew to a close.
Round 3 was decidedly slow-paced. Neither man threw much of consequences, but Rakic’s kicks remained on point and Barroso wasn’t doing remotely enough to win rounds. Barroso was caught in the eye, and referee Marc Goddard didn’t stop the action as the fist was closed and it was a punch as opposed to a poke. Rakic took a kick to the groin, recovered quickly, and then not much else of note happened for the remainder of the contest. Rakic wins in his first UFC appearance, while Barroso drops to 4-3 (1 NC) inside the Octagon.
Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Mike Santiago by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:22 of round 2- Featherweights
Magomedsharipov wasted no time flashing his array of quick spinning kicks. Santiago used the whizzer to thwart a trip from the Russian prospect. A counter uppercut by Zabit and a body shot stunned Santiago. He strung together his offense so beautifully and even attempted an off-the-cage head kick a la Anthony Pettis. Santiago’s best offense in the opening round was the body kick, which he used to back his opponent up twice.
Santiago took Magomedsharipov down in round 2, but Zabit stepped over and found himself on top in an instant. He tried going for the rear-naked choke but Santiago did well to prevent him from sinking both hooks in. Magomedsharipov worked from Santiago’s half-guard halfway through the fight, and Santiago was looking for a kimura. Zabit dragged Santiago along the canvas. After one failed choke attempt, Zabit elbowed Santiago and then slipped his arm underneath the chin to force the tap. Consider Magomedsharipov one to watch as a potential title contender. Santiago acquitted himself well on short-notice but he was overmatched.
Abdul-Kerim Edilov def. Bojan Mihajlovic by TKO (punches) at 2:32 of round 2 - Light Heavyweights
Edilov just bombarded the Serbian fighter from the beginning. A series of power punches, knees, and kicks had Mihajlovic in early trouble, and then Edilov changed levels to get the first takedown. Edilov unleashed vicious ground-and-pound to the body and the face, and Mihajlovic was offering nothing of substance from his back. Edilov took Mihajjlovic’s back in a scramble but didn’t get the finish in an otherwise woefully lopsided round 1.
The punishment continued in the 2nd round, as Mihajlovic ate a couple of knees and was taken down again. Edilov was content to just punch his opponent in guard, and he pummeled Bojan’s face repeatedly until the referee intervened. Absolutely nothing about this fight was competitive. Edilov wins his UFC debut and Mihajlovic falls to 0-3.
Gouti stuffed Holbrook’s takedowns throughout round 1 and landed his right hand with regularity. The Frenchman pressured the American and was walking through the shots Holbrook was landing. A mostly-blocked head kick by Gouti dropped Holbrook and it looked like referee Neil Hall would get the finish, but Holbrook momentarily halted the onslaught by holding onto a kimura grip. Once Gouti freed himself from the armlock, he battered Holbrook all over the cage with strikes and this time he got the stoppage. It’s Gouti’s first win in four UFC fights, and it’s possibly the end of the road for Holbrook after his third knockout defeat in his last four bouts.