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We have a pivotal fight in the Welterweight division, as Li Jingliang takes on Muslim Salikhov. A loser of two of the last three fights, Jingliang has had hard time against the upper echelon of the division. Still ranked fourteenth, Jingliang remains in a position in which he can earn another opportunity. First thing’s first, getting back on track with a victory. Meanwhile, Salikhov has been on a tear since dropping his UFC debut. A winner of five straight and sixteen of the last seventeen, Salikhov has shown that he is a legitimate threat in this Welterweight division. The only problem, is inactivity has limited him to only two fights in the last two years.

An important fight in the division, this has the ingredients to be a fun one. Jingliang can be described as a talented, yet wild fighter. Heavy handed and not afraid to brawl, Jingliang is notoriously a dangerous man to stand across from. Physically strong and with good wrestling as well, Jingliang has proven that he isn’t just a one-trick pony. The knock however on Jingliang has been his takedown defense and grappling. Of his five losses in the UFC, he was taken in four of them. Given Salikhov is mainly a striker, perhaps we don’t see any grappling. Then again, the former kickboxer has landed five takedowns in the last three fights. With a Wushu Sanda background, Salikhov is a dynamic striker with a vast arsenal on the feet. Patient and with a real sense of keeping distance, Salikhov looks pick his shots on the outside. A style that has limited his activity, but not his ability to flatline opponents. As evident by twelve of his eighteen wins coming via knockout.

Knowing both men possess knockout power, we could be in store for a back-and-forth fight. However, it’s Salikhov who I’m backing. With an arsenal on the feet, immense kickboxing experience and a grappling edge, I believe Salikhov has the tools to gain the upper hand on Jingliang. If the Russian can manage to stay on the outside and be patient, there are going to be opportunities to capitalize on the Jingliang’s wild advancements. So with that said, I predict that Salikhov wins this fight via decision.

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