UFC 254 Gains Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

By Jay Pettry Sep 11, 2020

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship is adding an exciting welterweight scrap to its final “Fight Island” card in October.

On Friday, Combate first reported that Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (22-7) will be welcoming Shavkat Rakhmonov (12-0) to the Octagon at UFC 254. The two have been booked on the card that will take place in the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Oct. 24. Zaleski dos Santos has since confirmed the pairing on his Instagram page.

The Brazilian saw his wild seven-fight win streak come to an end in August 2019 when he suffered a knockout at the hands of Jingliang Li with nine seconds left in the match. Since then, “Capoeira” captured a decision over Alexey Kunchenko, and most recently, dropped a split verdict to fellow flashy striker Muslim Salikhov in July. Of note, Zaleski dos Santos was the first fighter in organizational history to win a fight with a spinning strike and then another with a flying strike, doing so against Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini in 2018, respectively. Johnny Walker replicated the feat in 2019.

Rakhmonov will be making his debut after two previous attempts to appear fell through. The first was a March bout against Bartosz Fabinski, but the card was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic and Fabinski competed against a different fighter on a Cage Warriors Fighting Championship card that weekend. The Kazakhstani fighter’s second attempt, against Ramazan Emeev, also was scratched when Rakhmonov withdrew due to injury. The Kazakhstan Top Team welterweight's perfect record is bolstered by his 100 percent finish rate, with seven of his 12 career wins coming in the opening frame.

UFC 254 takes place on Yas Island on Oct. 24, with the marquee matchup atop the card Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Justin Gaethje. The anticipated co-main event is a heavyweight battle between Alexander Volkov and Walt Harris. Other bouts on the main card include a middleweight scrap between Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier, while Magomed Ankalev will be rematching Ion Cutelaba on the card after multiple rescheduled appearances for the two light heavyweights.

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