Shavkat “Nomad” Rakhmonov, 27 years old, is undefeated as a professional fighter and has a 100% finish rate. In the UFC, Rakhmonov is 2-0 with two submission wins. His opponent, Carlston “Mocambique” Harris, is seven years older and also 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage victories.
Rakhmonov is a respectable favorite over Harris before UFC Fight Night 200.
- Rakhmonov: -235
- Harris: +195
Rakhmonov is young, talented, and dangerous. He has all the makings of someone who won’t just enter the welterweight rankings but climb them. He has finishing ability in all facets of MMA and all rounds, showing gas tank and patience that not all up-and-coming fighters of his caliber have demonstrated. Rakhmonov is a long fighter who fights intelligently behind his jab and likes to unleash a laser of a straight cross. His strikes, quick and technical, land with precision and power. He picks his shots well and often capitalizes on them. While grappling, Rakhmonov hunts the finish but is adept at not sacrificing position for submission. This means he can look for a submission without putting himself in danger or allowing his opponent back to his feet. Rakhmonov typically moves forward, waits for a split-second opening, and then lands a 1,2 combination directly on his opponent’s chin. From here, after stunning his foe, Rakhmonov smells blood and hunts the finish on the feet or the mat.
Harris surprised many MMA fans with back-to-back first-round finishes in his first UFC fights with a submission and knockout victory. In both fights, Harris blitzed forward with heavy pressure. He is an accredited wrestler, and wrestling is his typical path to victory, but, in his last two fights, we saw that Harris’ striking chops have improved. He is not overly technical; instead, he strikes with volume and aggression. He often throws wide looping shots designed to inflict the most damage possible while also allowing him to follow his natural momentum into a takedown. Once he clasps his hands behind his opponent, his opponent goes to the mat almost every time because Harris is such a fundamental and powerful wrestler. But, because of his unexpected striking success, we haven’t’ seen this wrestling yet, in the UFC. Nevertheless, wrestling is still his bread and butter. Harris will continue to impress if he can continue this striking success with his wrestling as a backup threat.
I’ll admit, I didn’t expect Harris to dominate the way he has thus far in the UFC. While I have been impressed, I see Rakhmonov as a step above Harris. Rakhmonov will have the edge on the feet, should matchup in the grappling, and has an equally dangerous submission game. Harris’ game plan will likely be to rush forward and crowd Rakhmonov. I see Rakhmonov landing a quick combination straight down the pipe and dropping Harris and then getting the finish.
Prediction: Rakhmonov inside the distance
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.