Shavkat Rakhmonov officially became the first UFC fighter from Kazakhstan after signing his contract on Wednesday, July 31, according to an Instagram post by his manager, Sayat Abdrakhmanov. Though his opponent was not revealed, Abdrakhmanov said his client will make his UFC debut in November.
Rakhmonov is an undefeated prospect through 12 fights, and he has won all of them by either submission or KO/TKO. He is the current M-1 Global welterweight champion.
Rakhmonov’s professional career began in October 2014. He debuted at M-1 Challenge 52 against Adam Tsurov, winning the fight by triangle choke and earning Submission of the Night honors from the promotion.
The undefeated welterweight has primarily competed under the M-1 banner, with seven of his professional fights taking place in the promotion, but he also picked up the remaining five professional wins in his home country’s own MMA organization.
Rakhmonov’s second professional fight was for Kazakhstan MMA Federation in its second Battle of Nomads event. He went on to bounce back-and-forth between the two organizations, but he earned his first shot at gold as a pro at Battle of Nomads 10.
Standing at 8-0, Rakhmonov faced Faridun Odilov for the KZMMAF welterweight belt. He won the title by third-round TKO.
Rakhmonov defended his belt in his next fight at Battle of Nomads 11 in December of 2018, but he turned his sights back toward M-1 at the start of the new year, competing for the vacant welterweight belt against Daniil Prikaza in his return in March. It took just over 1.5 rounds for the Kazakhstani to secure his second belt.
In his most recent appearance on June 28, Rakhmonov defended his M-1 welterweight title with a first-round stoppage of Tiago Varejao.
Rakhmonov’s 12 opponents have a combined record of 120-64-6.
Rakhmonov’s success in M-1, in particular, helped put him on the UFC’s radar. In July of 2018, the organization announced that M-1 Challenge champions would be actively scouted by the UFC after M-1 partnered with UFC Russia.
Rakhmonov is following in the footsteps of fellow M-1 champions such as Bruno Silva and Movsar Evloev who earned UFC deals following dominant showings in the feeder promotion.
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.