Heading into any UFC event, there are dozens and dozens of possible questions, which is where most of the night’s intrigue develops. A basic question is the basis of every match up: is Fighter A better than Fighter B? Yet, as a fighter rises through the ranks, the details become more specific, and the questions more complex.
That’s where it gets really fun.
UFC Moscow was an event topped with a pair of relevant, important fights otherwise propped up on the backs of local talent. A lot was learned about that local talent and its opposition, but all the significant questions were focused on the main and co-main events, the only fights that featured ranked fighters attempting to break into the title mix.
I hate to say it, but it really feels like none of those important queries were answered.
Starting with the main event, what did we already know about Zabit Magomedsharipov? The No. 5-ranked Featherweight is quickly closing in on a title shot, and prior to his main event slot opposite Calvin Kattar, Dagestan’s Wushu Sanda striker had dazzled inside the Octagon. High-flying kicks, dominant chain wrestling, and crotch-ripping submissions — Magomedsharipov really appeared to have it all.
There was one big question, though: can Magomedsharipov maintain his pace against elite Featherweights? The Russian slowed down late opposite Jeremy Stephens, and that’s a major liability opposite men like Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovksi, who fight like Tasmanian devils for the full 25 minutes.
Unfortunately, the potential answer was quickly neutered when this short-notice main event was announced as three rounds rather than five. Adding insult to injury was that the fight played out extremely similarly to Magomedsharipov’s victory over Stephens: he threw and landed a lot more in the first two rounds before being forced on the defensive for the final five minutes, ultimately winning a 29-28 decision.
The Stephens fight took place back in March, yet we’ve learned almost nothing about “ZaBeast,” who’s apparently next in line for the title. That’s not his fault, and the fight itself was excellent, but it’s not a satisfying result either.
The co-main event between Alexander Volkov and Greg Hardy provided some answers, but sadly, they were not a ton of fun. We learned that Volkov can still throw a jab and flick up left kicks at a better pace than most of his Heavyweight peers. But, Volkov has nearly 40 professional fights and 20 stoppages via strikes. He knocked out Fabricio Werdum. Against an inexperienced foe with a potentially broken hand, one does have to expect a bit more than a lackluster decision win, right?
A win is a win, but it hardly moves Volkov forward. It’s almost like the fight didn’t happen.
Meanwhile, Hardy is not the ferocious ball of athleticism that his fans hoped for nor is he complete garbage at this whole fighting thing. Of the four men discussed, Hardy provided perhaps the most clear picture of where he’s at currently: an average prospect still early in his career.
He’s okay, but it’s difficult to endure all the accompanying drama for an okay fighter.
There are UFC fights nearly every weekend, and each card hopes to shift the paradigm at least a bit. It just didn’t happen last night, and I’m not blaming UFC or matchmaking for that outcome. Sometimes, things just come up flat.
For complete UFC Fight Night 163: “Zabit vs. Kattar” results and play-by-play, click HERE!