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We have an intriguing fight in the Lightweight division, as Damir Ismagulov takes on Guram “Georgian Viking” Kutateladze. A winner of eighteen straight, four of which have come inside the octagon, Ismagulov is closing in on the division’s top fifteen. The Kazakh will need to be active however to do such, as he has only fought once in nearly three years. Meanwhile, Kutateladze comes into this fight on a nine-fight win streak. Having not fought since scoring a debut victory over Mateusz Gamrot in 2020 though, Kutateladze will have the shake the cobwebs off quickly against a foe unbeaten in over six years.

A pivotal fight in the Lightweight division, with both competitors unbeaten in over six years, this should be a gritty and close fight. Ismagulov is a well rounded fighter, who is extremely experienced. Cerebral and technical on the feet, Ismagulov uses feints and head movement to disguise his attacks. Notably difficult to hit, opponents are landing a mere 1.9 significant strikes per minute. With good wrestling and endless cardio, Ismagulov has several routes to victory without even breaking a sweat. The only real knocks on the Kazakh may be the lack of power and activity. Two attributes that Kutateladze is known for. A heavy handed slugger, with a diverse arsenal on the feet, Kutateladze has many tools in the toolshed that can end the fight. While lacking takedown defense, Kutateladze’s ability to pop right back up is exceptional. With good cardio to boot, he can be a tough out for anyone.

As for a prediction, I’m going to side with the upset minded Kutateladze. Obviously Ismagulov is a talented fighter and has won eighteen straight for a reason, but his lack of finishing power and activity as I mentioned are two key components that I feel can be challenged. Knowing that Kutateladze is going be in the fight for fifteen minutes, I can expect him to land with volume and maybe even stun Ismagulov at some point. The only real concern I have with this prediction, is if Kutateladze can withstand Ismagulov’s wrestling and top control. My belief is that Kutateladze’s grappling and ability to pop back up are good enough to do such, but there’s a real possibility that Ismagulov is an even better wrestler than I know he is. Regardless, my gut says Kutateladze scores another big victory via decision.

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