Damir Ismagulov Returns to Face Rafael Alves at UFC 262

By Jay Pettry Mar 25, 2021

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For the first time since 2019, promising Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight prospect Damir Ismagulov will step into the cage.

On Thursday, AG Fight reported that Ismagulov (19-1) will be returning to the Octagon on May 15. The Russian lightweight will be competing at UFC 262 at the Toyota Center in Houston, where he will take on debutant Rafael Alves (19-9). This 155-pound pairing has since been confirmed by Ismagulov on his Instagram.

Ismagulov has not suffered a defeat since 2015, where he dropped a decision to Ramazan Esenbaev. Since then, he has rattled off 14 victories, including three inside the UFC cage. He has yet to finish an opponent in his UFC run, with a trio of unanimous verdicts against Alex Gorgees, Joel Alvarez and Thiago Moises in the span of about nine months. Before his signing in 2018, Ismagulov lorded over the M-1 Global lightweight category with a title-clinching victory over Maxim Divnich followed by subsequent defenses against Raul Tutarauli and Artem Damkovsky.

Brazil’s Alves found his way to the UFC off of the fourth season of Dana White's Contender Series, tapping out Alejandro Flores in the second round to secure a contract. “The Turn” was initially slated to make his debut against Pat Sabatini in February, but he missed weight so badly – 11.5 pounds over the featherweight cap – that he was pulled from the matchup and forced to move up a weight class. The MMA Masters representative will have a second chance to make a first impression, as he celebrates a finish rate of 74 percent with stoppages in each of his last three victories.

UFC 262 will go off with a bang on May 15 inside the Toyota Center in Houston, with the arena allowing for 100-percent capacity in what should be a packed house in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Topping this pay-per-view card will be a vacant lightweight championship clash between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler, while a co-headlining lightweight thriller comes between Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush.

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