Exciting Dagestani striker Said Nurmagomedov will face off against aggressive Tajik brawler Muin Gafurov at the highly anticipated UFC 294 this weekend. Both of them are coming off losses and will be eager to get back to winning ways at the blockbuster event. The former was beaten by Jonathan Martinez, while the latter lost to John Castaneda in their respective previous bouts.
After signing with the UFC in 2018, Nurmagomedov has fought eight times, winning six fights and losing two. His record stands at an impressive 17 wins and three losses. The 31-year-old’s standout effort so far has been a sensational submission win over Cody Stamann at UFC 270, which won him a Performance of the Night bonus.
Prepare for a Bantamweight battle of epic proportions!
Said Nurmagomedov vs Muin Gafurov, a showdown that’s set to rock the octagon at #UFC294 during #ADShowdownWeek.@etihadarena_ae @yasisland @VisitAbuDhabi @ufc @UFCEurope @InAbuDhabi pic.twitter.com/YrGQW2M9Q0
— Abu Dhabi Showdown Week (@ADShowdownWeek) September 18, 2023
Muin Gafurov is only the second Tajik fighter to compete in the UFC, the other being lightweight Nurullo Aliev. The 27-year-old was unsuccessful in his short-notice debut against Chad Anheliger on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2021. In 2019, aged just 21, Gafurov went toe-to-toe with former UFC slugger John Lineker in a losing effort in the ONE Championship.
Said Nurmagomedov vs Muin Gafurov stats
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Said Nurmagomedov vs Muin Gafurov prediction
Despite sharing a last name with one of the greatest grapplers in MMA history, i.e., Khabib Nurmagomedov, Said Nurmagomedov’s fighting style couldn’t be further from the Hall of Famer’s. Said Nurmagomedov has a very exciting striking and throws spinning back fists, elbows, kicks, and flying knees frequently.
In a style reminiscent of Zabit Magomedsharipov, Nurmagomedov baits his opponents into unpredictable striking exchanges and even rolls to avoid takedowns. He lands 3.54 strikes per minute at an accuracy rate of 48%. And though his striking defense seems unimpressive at 57%, his opponents manage to land only 2.15 strikes per minute on him.
Needless to say, the whirling dervish has a penchant for striking. He averages just one takedown per fight, with an accuracy rate of 17%. Nurmagomedov attempts no more than a single submission in a fight but has a serviceable takedown defense of 65%.
On the feet, Muin Gafurov‘s stats are quite similar to Nurmagomedov’s. He throws with 41% accuracy and lands 3.07 significant strikes per minute. The ONE FC veteran also absorbs 2.90 strikes with a slightly higher defense rate of 48% per minute.
Gafurov pips Nurmagomedov when it comes to takedowns, averaging 2.50 per fight at an accuracy rate of 28%. His takedown defense is almost level with his would-be opponent’s, but he has never attempted a submission in his career.
This promises to be an explosive rollercoaster of a fight, with both fighters throwing caution to the wind and firing at will. Expect thrilling action, sudden knockdowns, and takedowns out of the blue. Whether they win or lose the fight, there is a high chance that both fighters will win over the crowd.
But considering his big-game experience and ground-finishing ability, coupled with his opponent’s over-reliance on his chin, Said Nurmagomedov might well beat Muin Gafurov via Unanimous Decision.