Uzbekistan has long produced some of the fiercest combat sports athletes in the world, and they’re slowly making their presence known in mixed martial arts (MMA) alongside their increasing boxing dominance. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where nothing’s official until both men are in the cage, we look at a heavy-handed Uzbek wrestler out of Team Oyama.
Brazil’s Josiane Nunes is also making her Octagon debut at UFC Vegas 34 this weekend (Sat., Aug. 21, 2021); however, she got a write up back in April (read it here) before her bout was scrapped because her opponent, Zarah Fairn, came in a whopping eight pounds heavy.
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 8-2 (3 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Tycen Lynn
Kakhramanov — the third Uzbek to enter UFC after Makhmud Muradov and Liliya Shakirova — has scored two impressive victories since a knockout loss to Pipe Vargas. The first saw him destroy brief UFC signee Askar Askar, while the second saw him knockout Tycen Lynn for the CFFC Bantamweight belt.
He replaces Mana Martinez on less than five days’ notice.
While he’s not quite as potent overall, Kakhramonov reminds me a bit of Merab Dvalishvili, being an absolutely relentless wrestler with some haymakers and spinning shenanigans to go along with it. He does, however, hit a hell of a lot harder than Dvalishvili, as seen in the way he absolutely starched Askar and Lynn. Though he’s definitely still very rough on the feet, he appears to be getting better. For example, while he’d basically run forward while punching against Vargas, he kept his feet planted against Lynn, which is a step in the right direction.
Outside of the bombs and spinning, he’s got some heavy low kicks to round out his striking offense. His defense, on the other hand, still needs work. He’s someone who relies on being the one moving forward, and when he’s forced to retreat, he’s much easier to hit than he should be; even the limited Askar managed to crack him early before getting clipped during a particularly furious exchange. There’s no shortage of UFC Bantamweights who would refuse to give ground, so fixing this needs to be a priority, especially since his pace tends to go from superhuman to reasonable as the rounds progress.
His wrestling’s his strongest attribute, and even if he can’t always establish on top, he’s nightmarishly difficult to dislodge once he finds any sort of grip. He thrives on keeping opponents locked against the fence while hunting for trips or changing levels any time they get comfortable. If he does manage to get a ground attack going, he’s adept at taking the back and can unleash some truly nasty ground-and-pound if his opponent doesn’t keep him locked up in guard.
That said, the jury’s out on his guard passing and he proved unable to escape from Vargas’ back mount, so there’s definitely still some work to be done.
Kakhramanov’s aggression, power and cardio make a solid foundation, and while he’s still a work in progress, I can definitely see him doing well. At just 25 years old and with a solid squad in Team Oyama behind him, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Opponent: He takes on Trevin Jones, who himself stepped in for Jesse Strader on short notice. This figures to be a really fun clash of high-octane scrappers that could easily end at any moment, and I can’t find the confidence to make a clear prediction one way or the other.
Tape: His CFFC and WXC bouts are on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 34 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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