UFC 296 Preview: Stephen Thompson – Shavkat Rakhmonov

MMA: UFC Fight Night - Orlando - Thompson vs Holland
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC 296, we are going to see a big time matchup in the welterweight division. Undefeated sensational Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) will look to remain perfect as he takes on former welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (17-6-1).

This is a big test for Shavkat who will look to remain perfect. What’s even more impressive about Shavkat’s unbeaten streak is the fact that he has a 100% finish rate. Most recently, he submitted Geoff Neal back in March which moved him to 17-0 overall and 5-0 inside the octagon.

Tomorrow night will be the first fight in almost a year for Stephen Thompson. Wonderboy last fought Kevin Holland in a headliner last December and he won by TKO. He was supposed to fight Michel Pereira back in July, but Pereira badly missed weight and the fight was cancelled. Now, he takes on the UFC’s hottest prospect as he looks to make the case for one more title shot.

UFC 296

There are not many that are more crafty inside the octagon than Stephen Thompson. His karate style can be extremely difficult for opponents to deal with and it definitely can cause Shavkat some problems if he doesn’t have the correct game plan.

We’ve seen Wonderboy struggle with being taken down and I think that’s going to come into play tomorrow night at UFC 296. I do believe that Shavkat will strike with Wonderboy quite a bit in this one, but he’ll quickly realize that his path to victory lies within the grappling.

Ultimately, I expect a grappling-first game plan from Shavkat and that’ll lead to his win. I just don’t think Wonderboy is going to be able to keep it standing and at range enough to win this one. I do think Shavkat goes the distance for the first time, but I expect him to move to 18-0.

Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov by Decision