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Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Neil Magny | UFC on ESPN 38

Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Neil Magny | UFC on ESPN 38

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This weekend fans will be treated to a matchup between one of the most dominant rising prospects in the welterweight division and the grizzled vet who has sent numerous up and comers as well as former champions back down the ladder.

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Shavkat Rakhmonov is undefeated in his professional career, and even more impressive, not one man has survived till the final bell opposite him. However, the Kazakh native nicknamed “Nomad” will be tested by Neil Magny, who holds a number of wins at the highest level. These include Geoff Neal, Robbie Lawler, Li Jingliang, Carlos Condit, Johnny Hendricks, and Kelvin Gastelum. It will be promising potential vs. hardened experience at UFC on ESPN 38.

Betting Odds

Rakhmonov is a heavy betting favorite for this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 38 bout against Magny. He’s currently listed as a -400 favorite against Magny who can be found at +300 odds.

If Magny manages to score an upset win this weekend, a $100 bet would return $400 for all winners. However, if it’s the favorite, Rakhmonov, who wins then winners will see a return of $125 for every $100 bet placed.

Breakdown

Rakhmonov has been compared to many of the other quick-rising talents from Eastern Europe. Like Khamzat Chimaev, in the same weight division, Rakhmonov’s history and roots in Russian-style wrestling and Sambo are largely what is attributed to his dominance. However, while comparisons will surely continue to be thrown around, what makes Rakhmonov stand out is his well-roundedness on top of his grappling credentials. On the feet, Rakhmonov has a wide variety of tools, and rarely accurate spinning kicks. He stands light on the lead leg so as to maintain lateral and in and out mobility, but the drawback is he rarely gets the full extent on his reach. Regardless of this, he is able to maintain good balance and position even when he finds himself missing, or unable to commit fully trying to get inside the pocket. His spinning sidekick has become an important tool in bridging that gap when he cannot get in just with his boxing.

Getting inside is important because although he does earn top position with knockdowns fairly often, his takedowns are his bread and butter. Securing them mostly from over under position against the cage, he is one of the best at chaining in many different kind of takedowns from judo throws, to wide trips and drag downs all from the same position. From over-under, he is a master at controlling his opponent’s body position and even when reversed is always able to move with their strength and counter the reversal. On top, he has great pressure but releases it when his opponent’s movements become erratic and desperate enough to expose submission opportunities or strikes.

While Rakhmonov has never seen the closing bell, Magny is famous for his ability to get better as the fight goes on. Often those able to beat him in the octagon have the most success trying to finish him early, otherwise their chances of winning decrease over time. His length is a massive weapon but he does come off as a bit awkward striking, especially early before he settles into the fight. He will throw from over his shoulder offering a degree of telegraph, and because he isn’t particularly explosive he misses fighters with good in and out movement. If he can bait opponents into standing their ground, however, his length becomes better used and he can land, especially with the jab while exiting with shoulder defense.

Magny’s other greatest skill is his wrestling. Both striking and grappling Magny is not the most polished fighter, but his relentlessness and pace tend to chip away at his opponents, who even if better technically end up a deteriorated version of themselves late. It’s at this point that Magny makes best use of skills, especially his wrestling. In any clinch, as the typically taller fighter he is great at making his opponents carry his weight, by leaning on a hard Muay Thai clinch and lending knees, but he is also excellent at transitioning from striking clinches to double underhooks and getting under the arm and to the back. Magny may not get the takedown initially but he constantly goes back to mat returns — the number of attempts doesn’t matter because he gets position and does not stop working, normally to a decision.

Rakhmonov historically has success early, and Magny historically does not but gradually turns the tide of battle over time. Rakhmonov has a major problem in front of him in finding a way inside early to make the most of this because he isn’t one to stretch through to land anything. Therefore I think it’s important that he gets some respect from Magny with kicks and gets straight to his wrestling chops within the first few minutes. For Magny, what he is so good at is hitting opponents from the outside and when they finally find a way in, punching them by immediately engaging a clinch and halting any kind of rhyme they may have found. He has to be very wary of Rakhmonov early and fight safe until he has settled.

Prediction

One of the things about Magny is that he often ends up winning or losing by split decision because he almost always gives up that first round and comes back by the third. That shift somewhere in the middle of the fight has been a consistent defining feature for him, and Rakhmonov, although never making it to a decision, has also finished his opponents in the third while still going strong. I do believe that Rakhmonov’s patience and composure are a big factor in this fight, he is young but he fights maturely and he knows Magny is going to want to wear him out, so I believe Rakhmonov will have a measured approach while also making his speed and explosiveness fully on display.

Pick: Shavkat Rakhmonov to win (-400 odds at BetUS)

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