Rustam Khabilov burst on the scene back at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in December of last year with an explosive knockout victory. He followed it up with another first round TKO and tonight (Wed., Nov. 6, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for the Troops 3" at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, he faced his stiffest test to date when he battled veteran lightweight Jorge Masvidal.
The bout opened with Khabilov launching his heavy artillery in the form of deadly overhand rights that were landing, just not clean enough. He was aggressive with his offense and scoring points through that aggression but Masvidal stayed tight and returned fire with superior technique and a more measured game plan.
He put his foot on the gas pedal deeper into the second round but Khabilov matched his increased output, with the two exchanging takedown attempts and battling for position.
It got real interesting in the third, though, when Khabilov put the troops in attendance on their feet by hammering Masvidal with a spinning back kick that put him on his ass. Masvidal quickly went into survival mode but even then he seemed to be on offense, refusing to back down and avoiding any and all submission attempts.
Fatigue ruled the remainder of the final frame and it was close enough to cast doubt on whatever decision the judges ultimately came to.
In the end, Khabilov earned the favor of the judges, whose scores showed 30-27, 29-28, and 30-27, earning him a unanimous decision win.
For complete UFC Fight Night 31 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.