MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 21, a three-round featherweight bout between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Calvin Kattar. The event takes place on Saturday, November 9 at CSKA Arena in Moscow, Russia.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (-300)
Magomedosharipov (17-1) is one of the top featherweight prospects in the UFC. The 28-year-old Russian is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC and is riding a 13-fight win streak overall. Some of his notable victories include Jeremy Stephens, Kyle Bochniak and Sheymon Moraes. Magomedsharipov is a very well-rounded fighter who can stop his opponents on the feet or on the ground. He has 13 career wins by stoppage, six coming by knockout and seven by submission. On the feet he is quite technical and is able to work from range with a variety of punches and kicks. On the ground, he is very creative and always goes for the finish. At 6’1″, he is one of the tallest featherweights on the roster and his size has really helped him bully opponents around in past fights. For years people have been raving about Magomedsharipov and that he could be a future world champion. He now gets the opportunity to main event his first UFC card, and a big win here could set him up for a title shot in 2020.
Calvin Kattar (+250)
Kattar (20-3) is quickly emerging as one of the top featherweights in the UFC. The 31-year-old American is 4-1 in the UFC with knockout wins over Shane Burgos, Ricardo Lamas, Chris Fishgold and a decision win over Andre Fili. His lone loss in the Octagon came against Renato Moicano by decision. All together, Kattar has won 12 of his last 13 fights. He is a very dangerous featherweight known for his impressive striking skills. His boxing is top notch and has led him to achieve nine career wins by knockout. He prefers to keep his fights on the feet, having not won a fight by submission in over 10 years. That’s just fine with Kattar, as he has a solid chin and great cardio that allows him to set a heavy pace with his hands. He has moved up the featherweight ranks quickly in the UFC and a win over Magomedsharipov could help push him into the elite of 145lbs.
Fight Breakdown: This is a great fight between two of the best up-and-coming featherweights in the UFC. My only criticism of the matchup is that due to the short notice it’s only set for three rounds and not five like most UFC main events. It’s still a fun fight, though, and the winner should be well-positioned to get a title shot at 145lbs. This should be a competitive fight. Magomedsharipov has all sorts of momentum coming into this bout being as he’s on a 13-fight win streak, and he’s a fighter who has had a ton of hype behind him for a few years now. Kattar, meanwhile, has slowly flown under the radar to become a serious contender himself at 145lbs. If this fight was five rounds, I might pick Kattar just because we have seen Magomedsharipov slow down a bit in the later rounds. But in a three-round fight, I have to go with the Russian to win. I think he will be able to outpoint Magomedsharipov with a mix of punches and kicks to take two rounds and win a close decision on the judges’ scorecards. That being said, I don’t love the betting line and the value is likely on Kattar at this big dog odds. But my straight-up pick is Magomedsharipov to win by decision in Russia.
Prediction: Zabit Magomedsharipov wins by decision