Zabit Magomedsharipov is one of the UFC’s most exciting young stars and on Saturday in his native Russia, he continued his ascent up the featherweight ladder with a unanimous decision win over Calvin Kattar.
Magomedsharipov (18-1) outstruck Kattar for three rounds and prevented the American from ever finding a groove in their showdown in the UFC Fight Night 163 headliner. The Dagestani fan favorite won the fight clearly, but he wasn’t quite his normal self in that his patented spinning and flashy attacks weren’t on full display. Magomedsharipov also was surprised at how his American counterpart fought down the stretch of their tilt, which was a three-round affair instead of a five-rounder as the main event.
“Kattar is extremely tough,” he said immediately following his win. “I was not expecting him to pressure me that hard in the third round.”
Their fight remained a three-frame fracas because it was originally slated to be the night’s co-feature. But when former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos withdrew against Alexander Volkov, the two 145-pounders were sent to the top of the marquee. Kattar came on strong down the stretch, but Magomedsharipov said an infection and medicine hampered his performance inside the Octagon.
“I knew he was a tough guy,” he said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “We didn’t expect him to block so much, so I had to kick him the legs. This is just what was different from our expectations.
“I got a little tired in the third round because I got an infection when I was in Thailand,” he added. “I had to take antibiotics, so I think that influenced my performance.”
Regardless, the Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu product still had his hand raised against a quality opponent who had won 12 of 13 coming in. Magomedsharipov improved to 6-0 in the UFC and is on the verge of fighting for a world title for the world’s largest MMA promotion. The 145-pound crown will be on the line on Dec. 14 when reigning champion Max Holloway defends against Alexander Volkanovski, a match Magomedsharipov will be watching like a hawk.