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In the Heavyweight division, we have a showdown between UFC newcomer Azamat ‘The Professional’ Murzakanov and Jared ‘The Mountain’ Vanderaa. Originally, Philipe Lins was set to welcome Murzakanov to the octagon. However, Lins withdrew and in stepped Vanderaa on a week’s notice. Undefeated as a professional, Murzakanov most recently impressed on Dana White’s Contender Series. The Russian defeated Matheus Scheffel by TKO, which was his eight stoppage in ten victories. Meanwhile, Vanderaa will fight for the fourth time in 2021. In the three fights inside the octagon, Vanderaa is 1-2, with the lone victory coming over Justin Tafa.
Stepping in on short notice is risky, and even more so in the case of Jared Vanderaa. Not only has he lost two of his three UFC fights, but is tasked to unseat the undefeated Azamat Murzakanov. Perhaps the one thing going for Vanderaa is that the Heavyweight division has often been unpredictable due to the sheer power every man carries. With ten stoppages in twelve wins, seven of which are by knockout, Vanderaa certainly has the ability to shut out any man’s lights. The same could be said about Murzakanov, who has seven of his ten wins coming via knockout. The big difference between the two however, is that Murzakanov is well rounded. With excellent judo, wrestling and striking, Murzakanov looks to be the complete package. At 35 years old, while not an ideal age to debut in the UFC, the Heavyweight division has always been one to feature the dinosaurs of mixed martial arts.
As for a prediction, I have Murzakanov winning. Even if Vanderaa had a full camp, I’d still side with Murzakanov. The Russian is a complete fighter, who legitimately has one punch knockout power. Having seen him fight Ion Cutelaba and Ricco Rodriguez in hand-to-hand combat, it’s evident that when he lands, you fall. Which is exactly what I see happening in this fight, as I predict that Murzakanov wins via knockout.
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