After dominating Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259, what’s next for Askar Askarov?

Daniel Cunningham

This past Saturday at UFC 259, we saw a pivotal flyweight matchup on the prelims. Former title challenger, Joseph Benavidez (28-8), took on rising contender, Askar Askarov (14-0-1). The fight was supposed to be a key test for Askarov.

Saturday night was the fourth fight inside the octagon for Askarov. The native of Dagestan had already been in there with some of the division’s elites. He fought to a draw with Brandon Moreno before defeating Tim Elliot and Alexandre Pantoja.

Benavidez is looked at as one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC to have never captured a title. Despite never becoming champion, Benavidez has fought for the flyweight title four times and was the second ranked contender in the division.

Going into UFC 259, I was expecting a good back-and-forth battle. However, it was anything but. From the opening bell, the fight was all Askar Askarov. From the striking to the grappling, the native of Dagestan dominated Joseph Benavidez.

I was very impressed with Askarov’s ability to control the distance on Saturday. Askarov is long so when he was striking, he did a great job of working his straight punches and jabs. When he wanted to grapple, he closed the distance beautifully. Askarov won all three rounds on all three scorecards at UFC 259.

What’s next for Askarov after UFC 259?

When the updated UFC rankings come out tomorrow, the only men in front of Askarov will be the champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. As mentioned, Askarov has already fought Moreno to a very close draw back in 2019.

Moreno and Figueiredo will be rematching in June after they fought to a draw in December at UFC 256. In reality, Askarov should be next for the title, but he might have to take a fight in between if he wants to say active.

The matchup I would look at is the upcoming matchup between Alex Perez and Matt Schnell. Both are ranked inside the top seven and Perez is coming off of a title shot. Whoever wins that matchup would be a great next fight for Askarov.

If you’re looking at the rankings, Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) could be an option. However, as mentioned above, Askarov just defeated Pantoja last year. Hard to imagine the UFC would book that again. So the options for Askarov are wait for a title shot or meet the winner of Perez and Schnell if you ask me.