On the main card of UFC 296, we saw a big time matchup in the welterweight division. Undefeated sensational Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0) was looking to remain perfect as he took on former welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (17-6-1).
Shavkat Rakhmonov entered the octagon with not just a perfect record, but also a 100% finish rate. It’s almost unheard of to see a guy be 17-0 with 17 finishes. Yet, he’s continued to finish opponents and he entered with a 5-0 UFC record. That said, tonight was poised to be his toughest challenge to date.
Wonderboy hadn’t fought since last December when he stopped Kevin Holland. He was supposed to fight Michel Pereira over the summer, but that fight fell through after Pereira missed weight. Nobody wanted to fight Shavkat, but Wonderboy was willing to accept the challenge to try to get back to a title shot.
UFC 296 Recap
The UFC 296 welterweight contest kicks off with a touch of the gloves. Wonderboy opens in his traditional karate stance and Rakhmonov is light on his toes. Leg kick starts things out for Wonderboy. Rakhmonov starting to pressure here and he lands a right hand as he initiates a clinch.
Heavy cage pressure here from Rakhmonov who is looking to land a takedown. Short shots from Rakhmonov and now a knee to the body from Shavkat. Two minutes gone in the round and Wonderboy needs to find his way out of this clinch. Rakhmonov looks very strong in the clinch, but he can’t take Wonderboy down as of yet.
Halfway through the round and Rakhmonov starts unloading big shots in the clinch. Wonderboy adjusts his position after eating some big shots. Rakhmonov lifts Wonderboy but he’s not able to take him down. A few big shots land for Rakhmonov while he’s holding Wonderboy by one leg. 90 seconds left in the round and this is exhausting if you’re Wonderboy who is bloodied.
One minute left in the round and they get a warning from the referee for activity. Wonderboy breaks free and they’re back to striking with 40 seconds left. Nice body kick from Thompson. Another nice kick from Wonderboy. Blitz from Wonderboy. Right hand now from Rakhmonov and a jab from Wonderboy. The round ends and it’s 1-0 Rakhmonov at UFC 296.
Entering the second and Wonderboy needs to keep this fight standing. Side kick to the body from Wonderboy and a blitz. Right hand from Rakhmonov and a body kick from Thompson. Pressure here from Rakhmonov and he shoots for a takedown. Wonderboy defends but Rakhmonov stays on the pressure and lands a nasty knee to the body.
Rakhmonov is trying hard here for a takedown but he cannot get Wonderboy down. Knees to the thighs from Rakhmonov landing here. More knees here from Rakhmonov but the crowd is becoming incredibly restless here. More warnings from the referee and finally Rakhmonov lands a takedown.
Three minutes left in the round and Wonderboy is trying to use the fence to get back up. Rakhmonov is trying to get the back of Wonderboy. Rakhmonov has one of Wonderboy’s hands controlled here and he only has one hand to defend himself here. Rakhmonov locks in a choke and it’s deep. Thompson’s head is turning red.
He might tap here, however, Wonderboy pops his head out and he’s free. Half guard from Rakhmonov now and he starts working elbows. Dominant from the top is Rakhmonov here. Nasty elbows here from Rakhmonov and he looks like he’s going to try another choke here. He gets the back of Wonderboy and he locks it in. Wonderboy taps and Rakhmonov is 18-0 with 18 finishes. Unreal.
Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Stephen Thompson by Submission – Round 2