UFC Moscow: Magomedsharipov vs. Kattar Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Moscow.
Updated: Nov. 7, 2019 • 1:11 PM ET
Moscow will host this weekend's UFC Fight Night card.
The UFC will return to Russia this Saturday with a main event featuring a featherweight fight between No. 5 Zabit Magomedsharipov and No. 11 Calvin Kattar at CSKA Arena in Moscow.
The main event was originally scheduled to be a heavyweight bout between former champion Junior Dos Santos and Russian Alexander Volkov. Dos Santos, however, pulled from the fight late last month because of a staph infection in his leg, and Greg Hardy has replaced him to face Volkov in the co-main event.
The combatants in Saturday’s new main event were originally scheduled to fight at UFC Boston in October, but Magomedsharipov was pulled from the bout due to a blood infection. Believing the matchup with Magomedsharipov is perfect for himself, Kattar is relieved that the fight was rescheduled.
“Good to hear he’s ready to go for Moscow,” Kattar recently told MMA Junkie. “I’m just happy I got the fight that the fans from Boston paid to see. I accounted for 14 suites and a couple hundred tickets. I’ll be damned if they don’t get the fight that they paid for.”
The 28-year-old Magomedsharipov (5-0 in the UFC, 17-1 overall), one of the top prospects in the featherweight division, most recently defeated Jeremy Stephens in March at UFC 235. He’s a native of Dagestan, a federal territory of Russia, so he’ll undoubtedly have the crowd on his side in an important fight for his title aspirations.
“Going to the other side of the world, we’re pulling some ‘Rocky IV’ (expletive),” Kattar said. “It’s exciting. I’m living a movie now. ‘Rocky IV’ is coming to life. He’s traveling, too. He’s from Jersey, too. It’s a little bit more of a homecoming for him, so I’m sure he’s better received there.
“… At the end of the day, they’ll be booing me on the way in, but I’ll have them cheering for me by the end of the night.”
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The 31-year-old Kattar is coming off a TKO victory over former title challenger Ricardo Lamas at UFC 238 in June. He’s 4-1 in the UFC and can throw his name into title conversations with a win over a fighter who many consider to be a future champion. Kattar has finished 12 of his 20 career victories, but he’ll need to be the aggressor against Magomedsharipov, which no fighter has been able to do.
Kattar, though, believes he has come up with a great strategy to be the first to defeat Zabit in the UFC.
“I just (expletive) bring it,” Kattar said. “I see it going down where he’s being patient and doing his methodical (expletive), but I just want to punch with bad intentions. Worst case, I always like to see my hand get raised.
“With Zabit, he poses a lot of options, a lot of threats. But I feel like we’ll be ready for anything he throws at us. Let’s see how he does with the things I throw at him.”
Magomedsharipov, who has a unique offensive style that incorporates a mixture of Sambo and kickboxing, has finished 13 of his 18 fights. He stands over six feet tall, making him significantly bigger than most fighters at 145 pounds, which compliments an already dynamic striking style that keeps his opponents on their heels.
With a win on Saturday, Magomedsharipov could be the next fighter to challenge for the title 145-pound title. If Kattar wins, he may need one more victory before being considered the next challenger for the featherweight belt.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a heavyweight fight between No. 7 Alexander Volkov and late replacement Greg Hardy.
Volkov will attempt to rebound from a devastating knockout loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 229 in October 2018. He completely controlled the fight and was making a strong case for a title shot, but Lewis caught him with just seconds left in the third and final round.
Prior to the fight with Lewis, Volkov was 4-0 in the UFC with a victory over former champion Fabricio Werdum. The 31-year-old Russian is a former Bellator heavyweight champion Volkov and could be one win away from working his way right back into the title picture. A win over a former champion in Dos Santos, however, would have done much more for Volkov’s resume as opposed to a victory over Hardy.
Standing 6-feet-7 inches and 250 pounds, Volkov (30-7, 23 finishes) is one of the biggest fighters in the heavyweight division. A professional since 2009, he has other notable victories over Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Blagoy Ivanov, Brett Rogers and Ricco Rodriguez.
Hardy is 5-1 with one no contest in his professional career. The no contest came in his last fight after he was seen using an inhaler between rounds two and three, which was non-permitted.
The former Dallas Cowboy made his professional debut in June 2018 on Dane White’s Tuesday Night Contender series, where he won by first-round knockout over Austen Lane. He made his UFC debut in January 2019 and lost via disqualification after landing an illegal knee against Allen Crowder.
Hardy’s legitimacy as an MMA fighter has been questioned since he entered the UFC, but he can silence some of his doubters with a victory on Saturday. He knows he’s taking a step up in competition by fighting Volkov.
"I'm excited, man," Hardy recently told TMZ. “It was a lot of things that played into this decision, the big one was just the opportunity. This is a big-time fight.
“This is a high-level competition. This is what any Prince of War or future King of War could ever hope for."
Hardy entered the UFC on everyone’s radar because of his controversial past, but he can legitimize himself as a contender and a major draw with one of the biggest upsets of 2019 over Volkov.
"It's time to make a statement,” Hardy said. “It's time to step up and put my mettle to the test as the Prince of War, stop talking, put the hands up and fight with an actual monster, fight with a top-ranked elite assassin."
The rest of the main card on ESPN+
Welterweight bout - Zelim Imadaev vs. Danny Roberts
Light heavyweight bout - Khadis Ibragimov vs. Ed Herman
Welterweight bout - Ramazan Emeev vs. Rocco Martin
Light heavyweight bout - Shamil Gamzatov vs. Klidson Abreu
Light heavyweight bout - Magomed Ankalaev vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
Welterweight bout - Rustam Khabilov vs. Sergey Khandozhko
Middleweight bout - Roman Kopylov vs. Karl Roberson
Welterweight bout - Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. David Zawada
Middleweight bout - Alexander Yakovlev vs. Roosevelt Roberts
Women’s bantamweight bout - Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Pannie Kianzad
Bantamweight bout - Grigorii Popov vs. Davey Grant