Elliott has three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts under his belt. He was most recently seen defeating Louis Gaudinot via unanimous decision at UFC 164 in August. He's now won two fights in a row after dropping his Octagon debut to John Dodson in 2012.
Number seven-ranked Elliott makes a quick turnaround to face off against Bagautinov this weekend. He can cement himself as one of the world's best 125-pound fighters with a win at UFC 167.
Moscow native Bagautinov sits with an impressive 11-2 record in mixed martial arts (MMA). He made a successful UFC debut by finishing Marcos Vinicius at UFC Fight Night 28 in September. Bagautinov is an explosive fighter who has seen only two of his wins go to the judges' scorecards. He'll be looking for a spot in the flyweight top 10 in Las Vegas.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Tim Elliot vs. Ali Bagautinov:
Record: 10-3-1 overall, 2-1 UFC
Key Wins: Louis Gaudinot (UFC 164)
Key Losses: John Dodson (UFC on FOX 3)
Keys to Victory: Elliott is an extremely well balanced mixed martial artist who has three knockouts, four submissions, and four decision wins on his record. He was also a college wrestler.
He'll need that skill set against Bagautinov.
Elliott will need to implement a solid gameplan in this fight by staying on the offensive. If he allows Bagautinov to dictate where the fight goes, he'll be in for a long night. Elliott should fight smart on his feet by controlling the Octagon. He should also look for some takedowns to score points and control his opponent.
If he's able to score a few takedowns his job will be far from done. Bagautinov is a complete submission master who will not hesitate to go for a fight-ending hold once the fight hits the mat. It's Elliott's job to stay in his face with punches and interrupt Bagautinov's transitions on the ground.
Elliott is in a tough position against Bagautinov. His opponent isn't all that widely known yet but still presents a very dangerous proposition. For that reason, Elliott will need to fight an intelligent but not tentative bout. A high rankings spot is up for grabs; Elliott has to grab that opportunity with authority.
Record: 11-0 overall, 1-0 UFC
Key Wins: Marcus Vinicius (UFC Fight Night 28)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Bagautinov is a decorated grappling champion who just fought his first UFC bout a little over two months ago. With five knockouts and four submissions, the two-time World Combat Sambo champion knows how to finish his opponents in the cage.
"Puncher" is ready to take the UFC flyweight division by storm.
But he's got to get by the tough-as-nails Elliott first. To do so, Bagautinov should come out swinging to score for the impressive knockout early. The last time Elliott was finished was way back in his third-ever MMA bout, but that shouldn't deter Bagautinov from hunting for the finish.
If Elliott is successful in using his wrestling to drag the fight to the mat, Bagautinov will be ready. In addition to his lofty accomplishments in Sambo, Bagautinov is also a Russian national champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His submission game is absolutely lethal. He'll be searching for a varied offense of armbars, chokes and sweeps to get in position to win at UFC 167.
The former Fight Nights flyweight champ has put his last three opponents away with strikes, so that skill set may be at the forefront of Bagautinov's gameplan. There's no doubt he has the utmost confidence in his abilities. In the midst of an incredible nine-fight win streak, Bagautinov has more momentum than Elliot at this point.
Elliott, however, has more Octagon experience.
To come out successful on Saturday, Bagautinov needs to keep his emotions in check for the biggest fight of his life. The atmosphere will be absolutely electric at UFC's 20th Anniversary show. Keeping a cool head and sharp focus will be paramount to having his hand raised in the end.
Bottom Line from Vegas: The bottom line of this fight is that it is the grandest stage that either of these two fighters has ever fought on.
It'll be very interesting to see how each one responds to that pressure.
Elliott may have a bit more on his shoulders with more UFC fights and a spot in the top 10. He can possibly move into the top five by defeating the surging Bagautinov in Las Vegas. Elliott's main advantage is going to be his wrestling, but he has to be smart about using it. Rushing in for a takedown can get him caught with strikes or in a submission, so he'll have to pick and choose his spots.
Elliott could look to grind Bagautinov out against the cage to neutralize his potent offense. That would lead to a somewhat disappointing bout for the fans.
On the other hand, if Bagautinov gains the advantage in this fight it could definitely end with an exciting finish. "Puncher" is looking to announce his presence in UFC and he's already facing a ranked opponent in his second fight.
He has to prove that he deserves such an immediate step up in competition. Elliott may not have put on as many flashy finishes as Bagautinov, but he does have the invaluable experience of fighting in Las Vegas.
That'll be a significant advantage that Bagautinov can overcome by pushing the pace from the opening bell and making this his fight. If he can do that, he'll be well on his way to exploding onto the flyweight rankings very soon.
Tim Elliott looks to put an end to Ali Bagautinov's long win streak in the opening main card bout of UFC 167. Who is your pick to come out on top in this pivotal flyweight showdown?