Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight prospects Zabit Magomedsharipov and Kyle Bochniak threw down last night (April 7, 2018) at UFC 223 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Though he was just two fights into his UFC career, Magomedsharipov was already among the most hyped up prospects on the roster. If there was a bright side to all the chaos during this fight week, it’s that the Russian was elevated to the main card and given a chance to shine.
Don’t make a mistake about it, Bochniak was given to Magomedsharipov in the hopes of building him up. However, the Boston-native had a crafty style and good movement, which are often great tools to pull off an upset.
Unlike previous fights, Bochniak began the bout with head movement and forward pressure, rolling into heavy hooks. Some of them landed, but Magomedsharipov seemed unbothered and fired some good kicks in response.
The exchanges were surprisingly closer than expected. Magomedsharipov was landing some hard kicks, but Bochniak’s wide hooks were also connecting with reasonable accuracy. The deciding factor seemed to be the range, as Magomedsharipov could flick out a jab or long kick with ease, whereas each of Bochniak’s attacks required a great deal of effort.
Magomedsharipov won the round, but we had a fight on our hands.
Bochniak landed a couple nice punches to start round two before Magomedsharipov kicked him in the ribs and took him down from the clinch. Bochniak scrambled hard to get back up, but he wound up on his back in full guard anyway.
The fight moved back to standing with three minutes remaining, and Magomedsharipov’s jabs and kicks continued to control range. Bochniak continued to wade forward and fling hooks, showing great guts and solid offensive technique. No matter what Magomedsharipov hit him with — be it brutal kicks or slick takedowns — the Boston-native popped back up and kept firing.
It was admirable, even if he was down two rounds to none with five minutes remaining.
Bochniak showed no lack of heart or will in the third, continuing to advance and swing heavy hooks. Magomedsharipov was too sharp, however, maintaining his range with a wide array of nasty kicks before level changing into an easy double leg takedown.
There would be no quick stand up for Bochniak this time, but he was eventually able to slip out the back door. With a minute remaining, Magomedsharipov was tired from all the previous grappling, and Bochniak walked him down with punches. “Crash” was landing big punches to the final bell, but he was exhausted as well, and he could not really build momentum towards a finish.
This was a far better fight than expected, largely due to Kyle Bochniak’s gameness and aggression. Previously, Bochniak won fights by moving around at range, timing counter shots, and scoring takedowns, but he recognized that he’d have to switch it up to get inside opposite the bigger man.
It didn’t win him the fight, but Bochniak’s stock has never been higher.
As for the actual winner, Magomedsharipov showed his unique skill set. At distance, his diverse mix of kicks and accurate left hand allowed him to dominate exchanges. Aside from excellent kickboxing, Magomedsharipov also demonstrated his excellent timing on takedowns. His trip in the second round was a thing of beauty, but the “uglier” displays of grinding clinch work and takedown chaining are an even more important and effective aspect of his wrestling.
Magomedsharipov requested a top 10 opponent next — Yair Rodriguez specifically — and that seems to be the best move.
Last night, Zabit Magomedsharipov continued his rise to the top in a thoroughly entertaining win. Who should the Dagestani athlete face next?
For complete UFC 223: “Nurmagomedov vs. Iaquinta” results and play-by-play, click HERE!