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UFC Columbus - New Blood: ‘The Black Wolf’ (finally) hunts

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debuts aren’t always the timeliest things, as injuries, global pandemics, or other mishaps can delay a hopeful’s arrival by years. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I really should try to learn to read Cyrillic, we look at an undefeated Dagestani prospect first signed in 2020 and his last-second replacement foe.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 55 On ESPN+

Bantamweight Battle! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., May 21, 2022, with a must-watch women’s Bantamweight contenders’ bout between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Holly Holm, taking on No. 5-seeded Ketlen Vieira. In UFC Vegas 55’s co-main event, No. 14-ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio will lock horns with Michel Pereira in an absolute Welterweight firecracker.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Aliaskhab “The Black Wolf” Khizriev

Weight Class: Middleweight
Age: 31
Record: 14-0 (5 KO, 3 SUB)
Notable Victories: Henrique Shiguemoto, Rousimar Palhares, Yasubey Enomoto

Khizriev needed just 58 seconds to knockout Rousimar Palhares and claim the Fight Nights Global Interim Welterweight title in 2018. Then, 2.5 years later, he dispatched Henrique Shiguemoto in 50 seconds on Contender Series to secure a UFC contract.

Suffocating wrestling and sporadic bursts of violence are the name of the game for Khizriev. He’s a highly adept chain-wrestler, particularly with his single-leg, and uses a very heavy top game to patiently work through opponents’ guards. Should they try to make space — or if he just decides it’s time to do damage — he’ll erupt with a flurry of heavy blows, which he’ll often use to further advance position. If they do manage to get a scramble going, his excellent submission defense and dangerous front headlock series allow him to safely shut it down.

He’s not one to give up and reset when someone gets away, either. He’ll gladly re-shoot if you don’t make enough space, often successfully.

His southpaw stand up is a bit rougher, though far from poor. He relies on low kicks, head kicks, knee stomps and heavy overhand lefts to both do damage and set up his wrestling. He’s a bit too linear, however, and can really load up on his lead strike. Yasubey Enomoto also managed to tag him with punches multiple times when Khizriev lingered in the pocket after finishing his combinations.

I do think his wrestling alone makes him a solid addition to UFC’s Middleweight ranks, even if he might be a bit too limited on the feet to break the Top 10. It’s worth noting that the Enomoto fight was in 2017 and Khizriev’s spent less than two minutes in the cage since then, though so a lot could have changed in that span.

Opponent: He takes on late-notice debutant Denis Tiuliulan, his fifth planned debut foe. Khizriev should dominate even with the cage rust, as Tiuliulan’s shaky takedown defense and tendency to give up his back offer plenty of opportunities for “The Black Wolf” to snatch up a quick finish.

Tape: His Contender Series appearance is on Fight Pass.


Denis Tiuliulin

Weight Class: Middleweight
Age: 33
Record: 9-5 (8 KO)
Notable Victories: Juscelino Ferreira

Moscow’s Tiuliulin started his career 4-1 before a stretch that saw him claim just one victory in five appearances. He’s since won four of five, including a brutal first-round knockout in his most recent effort.

He steps in for Abusupiyan Magomedov on less than three weeks’ notice.

The eight knockouts in nine professional wins paint a fairly accurate picture of Tiuliulan’s approach. He’s a stalking power-puncher with a vicious right hand, a decent jab and some solid knees he can sneak in when needed. Though he’s usually content to throw one or two shots at a time, he’s willing to knuckle down and slug it out in the pocket. His gas tank and aggression are sufficient to keep him in pursuit until the final bell, no matter how rough the going was beforehand.

It gets rough a lot more than he’d like, though. Besides his overall lack of striking variety and crudeness, his big problem on the feet is how much he puts behind his shots, especially his straight right. He generates so much uncontrolled forward momentum that it’s fairly easy for opponents to duck underneath it and put him on his back. His general takedown defense doesn’t seem terrible, but he puts himself in such a bad position that it doesn’t matter.

Things generally get worse once he’s on the mat, where he offers very little off of his back. He’s single-minded about getting to his knees and scooting to the fence so he can stand up, which allows opponents to very easily take his back. He can get to his feet if he does reach the fence, but does seem unable to break away consistently, as seen in his loss to Ikram Aliskerov two fights back.

Overall, it’s telling that just two of his wins came over opponents with winning records and five of the others came over winless opposition. All he really has going for him is power and relentlessness; at 33 years old, he’s not going terribly far in the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.

Opponent: See above.

Tape:


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Columbus fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Columbus: “Blaydes vs. Daukaus” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.