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UFC Fight Night 163: Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Preview
05 Nov 2019, 02:03 IST

The UFC returns to Russia this weekend with a major Featherweight main event
The UFC returns to Russia this weekend with a major Featherweight main event

The UFC returns to Russia this weekend for their second show in the city of Moscow, as hot prospects Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar clash in what should be a hell of a fight in the main event of UFC Fight Night 163.

The show has a heavy Russian feel to it – hardly surprising given the large Russian contingent of fighters currently signed to the UFC – as just one bout on the 13-fight card features two fighters hailing from elsewhere. As you’d expect for a European Fight Night card the show is low on name value, but hopefully it’ll still be action-packed.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 163: Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar.

#1 Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Calvin Kattar

Zabit Magomedsharipov might be the UFC
Zabit Magomedsharipov might be the UFC's hottest prospect at 145lbs

Initially scheduled for last month’s ESPN show, this intriguing clash of Featherweights was moved here for undisclosed reasons and has now been bumped into the main event slot following the scrapping of the fight between Junior Dos Santos and Alexander Volkov. You’d find it hard to find any fans who would claim these two don’t deserve the spotlight, as they’ve both been on fantastic runs and have a combined UFC record of 9-1.

The greater hype in this fight has been on Zabit Magomedsharipov, he’s been pushed by the UFC and its announcers as a potential future champion since the day he entered into the promotion, but strangely enough there’s a fair argument to make that Kattar has beaten the tougher opposition. Zabit’s best win is Jeremy Stephens, and outside of that he’s only faced fringe contenders, admittedly through no fault of his own.

Kattar on the other hand has strong wins over Andre Fili, Shane Burgos and Ricardo Lamas, with a loss to the ultra-tricky Renato Moicano coming along the way too. ‘The Boston Finisher’ has been fighting for over a decade now, and at 31 years old, this is almost certainly his chance to break into the real elite of the division. But can he do it?

The issue for Kattar in my opinion is going to be with the well-rounded skills of Magomedsharipov, but also with the length of the Dagestani native. Kattar has proven himself to be a vicious striker, and if he gets an opponent hurt he’s more than capable of putting them away, as we saw when he stopped both Burgos and Lamas. But for as impressive as those wins were, it must be noted that both men have a boxing-heavy striking style, and that appeared to play into Kattar’s hands.

Sure, Kattar isn’t a short guy for 145lbs himself – he’s 5’11” and has a 72” reach – and he was actually giving up more reach to Burgos (75.5”) than he will be to Zabit (73”) this weekend, but when both fighters are boxing, unless one is at a serious reach disadvantage then head movement and footwork plays much more into what happens – and Burgos was willing to drop his hands all too often.

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Zabit on the other hand is much more willing to throw kicks at an opponent – in fact, leg kicks were largely how he wore down Stephens early on in their fight – and with his strong wrestling and grappling game, he carries much more of a takedown threat than any of Kattar’s other recent opponents, save for Lamas who realistically is past his prime at this stage.

Essentially, Zabit has such high-level skills in all areas that he’s a difficult match for anyone in the division. His one weakness – a penchant for brawling at times – doesn’t even seem that bad when you consider that he also showed a pretty solid chin in his wild fight with Kyle Bochniak. Should he brawl with Kattar? Definitely not, ‘The Boston Finisher’ lives up to the nickname and can probably take anyone out, but then Kattar doesn’t tend to draw his opponents into brawls either.

At the end of the day, Kattar has never fought someone as well-rounded and skilled as Magomedsharipov despite his strong wins, and when you take into account that Moicano largely used his leg kicks, jabs and the threat of a takedown to work him over for three rounds – and this fight is also a three-rounder due to it being moved into the headlining slot on late notice – I just can’t see this one going any differently. I’m taking Zabit by lopsided decision.

The Pick: Magomedsharipov via unanimous decision

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