Shavkat Rakhmonov: Is he the future of UFC?

Shavkat Rakhmonov has earned himself a few of those marks by having finished three UFC bouts, Those hailing Rakhmonov as “the future” or similar may have gone ahead of themselves, given that the majority of his victories came over inferior teams.

On the inaugural UFC event of 2023, a bout between two top contenders at welterweight is
getting close to being finalized. The mixed martial arts community has a habit of labeling up-and-coming competitors as “the next great thing”, “somebody to watch”, and “future champions”

Shavkat Rakhmonov
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 26: (L-R) Shavkat Rakhmonov of Uzbekistan secures a rear choke submission against Michel Prazeres of Brazil in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 26, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Geoff Neal and Shavkat Rakhmonov, two middleweight candidates, have committed to a three-round bout on January 14 at a yet-to-be-announced venue in Las Vegas, presumably the UFC Apex. However, agreements are anticipated to be made and signed in the near future. Because the promotion has not made a public announcement, MMA Junkie was recently notified of the booking by two unnamed sources.

ESPN was the first to break the story. The fight was announced a few days after a heated Twitter dispute between Neal (15-4 MMA,7-2 UFC) and Rakhmonov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC). After originally accusing Neal of trying to escape the fight, Rakhmonov eventually admitted that he had been wrong. Then Neal revealed that he and his crew had really contacted the UFC to request the fight.

Shavkat Rakhmonov
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 25: Shavkat Rakhmonov of Uzbekistan poses on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on June 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The 32-year-old Neal enters the bout on a two-fight winning run. When he fought Vicente
Luque in August knocked him out in the third round after dominating the fight throughout. Additionally, Belal Muhammad, Santiago Ponzinibbio, Niko Price, and Mike Perry have all had notable success in the UFC. Rakhmonov, at age 27, is largely considered a promising future star in the welterweight class. Therefore, he and his team have complained that it is difficult to find competition.

Rakhmonov has won all four of his UFC bouts via knockout. Most recently, in June, longtime competitor Neil Magny was eliminated. Magny, a UFC veteran who has competed against the best at 170 pounds since 2015, was ranked tenth going into the bout. Having defeated Alex Oliveira, Michel Prazeres, and Carlston Harris, Rakhmonov finished the race in fifteenth place.

Shavkat Rakhmonov
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 25: (L-R) Shavkat Rakhmonov of Uzbekistan punches Neil Magny in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 25, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The fact that Magny had fought and won against top-tier competition, had a diverse set of
skills, and had a length and reach benefit over his younger adversary made this battle
intriguing. On paper, this fight seemed like it would provide Rakhmonov a chance to showcase his skills and establish his reputation as a contender in the middleweight class.
The battle was not a trial. A possible future UFC champion, that’s how Rakhmonov has been described since his submission victory over Magny.

When it comes to fighting on the ground, Rakhmonov is a very calm and patient opponent. He makes effective use of his height and reaches by putting his knee on his opponent’s belly before landing heavy blows. As he pounced on Magny, Rakhmonov aimed for the head and torso, all the while seeking a way to force a surrender.

The magnificent sequence of events leading up to the conclusion reflected a high level of battle savvy. During a scuffle on the ground with 13 seconds remaining in the round, Rakhmonov grasped Magny’s chin and jerked his head to the side. After giving Magny some breathing room, Rakhmonov was able to administer the decisive guillotine choke and terminate the bout. While Rakhmonov may lack the middleweight division knowledge of some of his competitors, neither does Khamzat Chimaev, who is now ranked third in the UFC.

Although the 27-year-old Kazakh boxer has quietly pieced up a great career, he has
generated nearly as much excitement as Khamzat Chimaev, another unbeaten middleweight on the squad.


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