This past Saturday on the main card of UFC 296, we saw a big time matchup in the welterweight division. Top contender Shavkat Rakhmonov (18-0) was looking to remain perfect as he took on one of the craftiest fighters in the division in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (17-7-1).
Shavkat is so well-rounded and that made me very interested to see his approach on Saturday night. Wonderboy is one of the best and most complex strikers in the world so I was wondering if he was going to stand with him. Turns out, he really had no interest in standing with Wonderboy.
From the opening bell, Shavkat worked to get the fight to the ground. While he was effective with his control in the first round, the second round was where he really turned it on. After securing a dominant position on the ground, Rakhmonov really started working towards submissions.
He nearly had Wonderboy out of there with a choke, but Wonderboy defended extremely well. However, he was just delaying the inevitable. Eventually, Shavkat got his back and locked in a choke to get the win at UFC 296.
What’s next after UFC 296?
Shavkat Rakhmonov is really something special. The man is 18-0 with a 100% finish rate and it’s against very solid competition. It was revealed after the fight that Rakhmonov suffered a serious ankle injury weeks before the fight and it’s likely going to need surgery. However, Shavkat refused to pull out of the fight.
This does explain why he didn’t have any interest in engaging in the striking of Wonderboy. On the feet, Shavkat has a lot of success with his kicks and he wasn’t able to kick at all at UFC 296. After the win, Shavkat said he wanted a title shot next and that could be in the cards depending on his recovery.
I believe that Leon Edwards will defend against Belal Muhammad next. If that fight happens in the first quarter of this upcoming year, perhaps over the summer, Shavkat can get his shot. If a title shot is not next, I like the idea of him fighting Kamaru Usman if Usman comes back to 170.