Last night (Sat., Nov. 16, 2013) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight hopefuls Tim Elliott and Ali Bagautinov went to war on the opening pay-per-view (PPV) main card bout of UFC 167 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Elliott had won his previous two UFC bouts heading into UFC 167. Bagautinov had just made his Octagon debut in Sept. 2013, defeating Marcos Vinicius via technical knockout. The fight held pivotal rankings implications in UFC's growing 125-pound division.
In the end, Bagautinov put forth an impressive performance to improve his mixed martial arts (MMA) record to 12-2. Let's take a look at how Bagautinov got the job done at UFC 167.
The fight began with Elliott stalking the Russian-born "Puncher" down. Bagautinov fought back with a crisp left hand followed by a big left knee that rocked Elliott temporarily. Towards the end of the round, Bagautinov rushed forward with a lightning fast combo that stunned Elliott.
Elliott continued to control the Octagon as the second began, but Bagautinov scored a takedown. Elliott went for a tight guillotine but couldn't quite synch it in. Bagautinov continued to land good counter shots as Elliott tried to back him into a corner. A quick scramble ended in a stalemate, and Elliott landed a quick one-two as the second frame came to a close.
The action picked up a bit in the third as Bagautinov threw some good hooks. His uppercuts and overhand rights were crisp and accurate. He showed an impressive gas tank to throw a continuous output of power strikes late into the bout. Bagautinov landed a headkick and avoided a takedown, but Elliott ultimately gained a trip as the last round wound down.
Elliott never stopped pressing forward but Bagautinov landed way more significant strikes. He took home the unanimous decision to notch his second straight UFC win in the last two-and-a-half months. He's a Combat Sambo and Russian National Brazilian Jiu-jitsu champ but his striking has been paying big dividends in the Octagon.
He'll likely make his way onto the relatively thin UFC Flyweight top ten. An even more formidable task that the number seven-ranked Elliott will await the streaking Bagautinov.
"Puncher's" overall skillset is a scary mix of accurate striking and expert-level grappling. He was a dark horse contender coming into the bout, but not any longer. Elliott was respected as a solid fighter at 125 pounds. Bagautinov beat him to the punch almost every time last night in Las Vegas.
A fight between Bagautinov and former 125-pound title challenger John Dodson would provide a great bout for the normally knockout-starved Flyweight division.
Elliott thought he was robbed once the decision was announced but it wasn't really that close. He showed decent wrestling throughout the bout. However, all he really had going for him was his forward momentum. Elliott never capitalized on his aggressiveness, and that inaction came back to haunt him. He'll receive a bout against an opponent outside of the top ten, and he'll likely fall out of it himself.
Ali "Puncher" Bagautinov continued the hot run of Russians in UFC, taking out a higher-ranked opponent in Tim Elliott at UFC 167. What's next for the exciting upstart contender?