Shavkat Rakhmonov (No. 10) — who sickeningly draws comparisons to Dagestani wrecking ball, Khamzat Chimaev — was another promising prospect who was on display at UFC 285 tonight (Sat., March 4, 2023) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, locking horns with top-ranked Welterweight contender, Geoff Neal (No.7), on pay-per-view (PPV).
Rakhmonov is not as flashy as Khamzat; however, “Nomad” might actually be the better fighter, a tremendously well-rounded finisher who seldom lets opponents survive to even the third round. Neal, meanwhile, is riding into this fight as a major underdog despite an impressive two-fight win streak.
Neal, who missed weight bad ahead of the 170-pound showdown, is an excellent physical talent — the biggest test of Rakhmonov’s career. In the end, though, he did ultimately serve as a stepping stone, as Rakhmonov landed dozens of power punches en route to a late slick submission finish.
Rakhmonov started strong, closing forward with a heavy right hand. Just over a minute into the round, Rakhmonov managed to close distance into the clinch, but Neal defended the trip. Neal created distance and landed a glancing high kick! The two were exchanging serious heat, and Rakhmonov lost his mouthpiece. Undeterred, he kept firing, and both were landing hard.
Out of nowhere, a Rakhmonov high kick stunned Neal and cut him open. The two moved into the clinch, where “Nomad” landed some knees and finally was given back his mouthpiece. The pace was starting to get to Neal, and Rakhmonov kept building on his momentum with knee and elbow lands. Still, Neal was able to land well with a counter near the bell.
The pace did not slow in the second. Rakhmonov pressured behind his jab, landing nasty knees to the body any time the two closed distance. Rakhmonov really committed to a single leg takedown, but Neal managed to keep his balance. Rakhmonov’s jab was HUMMING, but Neal landed a sharp left hand counter at about the midway point in the round to keep himself in the fight.
Neal took a hard uppercut in return that backed him into the cage. Over and over, Rakhmonov pounded the body with knees and kicks. Every once in a while, Neal would land a decent left hand from his back foot, but he was taking a ton of damage overall.
Consecutive high kicks scored for Rakhmonov to start the third, but Neal fired right back. Then, an overhand counter connected for Neal, stunning Rakhmonov! He wrestled well to recover, but it was clearly Neal’s best land of the fight. Rakhmonov snapped off some jabs then transitioned into the single leg takedown. The fight stalled out in the clinch for a bit, but when the two broke apart, Rakhmonov badly hurt his opponent with a right! Knees and elbows scored by the bunches for “Nomad,” but Neal showed off incredible toughness to endure the punishment.
Neal turned away, allowing Rakhmonov to take the rear waist lock. The fight seemed likely to end there, until Rakhmonov suddenly attacked the neck with a bulldog choke! Neal was trapped, and he was forced to submit. Neal managed to really test Rakhmonov, but “Nomad” remained undefeated in a stellar showing nevertheless.
Kazakhstan just might have a future champion on its hands.
Final result: Rakhmonov defeats Neal via third-round submission — WATCH HIGHLIGHTS!
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