Rinat Fakhretdinov showed star potential at UFC Vegas 76 with smashing of Kevin Lee

Feb 3, 2018; Belem, Brazil; View of the ring before UFC Fight Night at Mangueirinho Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday on the featured prelim of UFC Vegas 76, we saw a welterweight showcase. Former interim title challenger Kevin Lee (19-8) was making his highly anticipated return against the dangerous and surging contender Rinat Fakhretdinov (22-2).

While Kevin Lee owned the majority of headlines due to his name and returning nature, it was Fakhretdinov who enjoyed being the betting favorite throughout the week. The Russian had won sixteen fights in a row including both of his bouts in the UFC heading into Saturday night.

That said, I found myself being a victim of the Kevin Lee return hype train. I just thought that Lee might return to form with a big performance announcing his return to the promotion. However, we saw anything but that on Saturday night.

Fakhretdinov came forward and landed a massive right straight that dropped Lee to the canvas. When Lee shot on the legs looking to recover, Fakhretdinov immediately snatched his neck and a guillotine. It was deep and he put Kevin Lee to sleep securing his third straight UFC win.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 76?

Yes, Kevin Lee doesn’t have the same name he once did in MMA circles despite only being 30-years-old, however, he’s still got a decent name. Fakhretdinov made it look like Lee didn’t even belong in the same promotion as Fakhretdinov on Saturday night.

With this massive win, I think it’s time that the UFC gives Fakhretdinov a fight that could vault him into the rankings. When looking at the welterweight division, I think there are a couple of names that make sense for Fakhretdinov’s next bout.

Randy Brown is a name to watch for his next bout, but if you want another decent name with a style that could make things interesting, watch out for Gunnar Nelson. Nelson has won two fights in a row and could pose some challenges for Fakhretdinov. Those are two names I’m watching for his next bout.