To watch UFC featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov fight is to reinterpret all of your previous notions about what is possible inside the Octagon.
A striker, a grappler, a ninja who scales cage posts and spins over his opponents, Zabit is crafty in a way like no other. He’s a martial artist with style, eloquence, power, and grace, which is awkwardly complemented by his humdrum demeanor. It’s quite bizarre, honestly.
Zabit is basically unlike anyone we’ve ever seen in the UFC. He’s a true original who is trying to push the boundaries of offensive expression in MMA, and he’s fighting Calvin Kattar in the UFC Moscow main event, this Saturday, November 9 on ESPN+.
Zabit is Right on the Cusp
Zabit Magomedsharipov (unofficially nicknamed “Zabeast”) is essentially right on the cusp of big things in the UFC. He’s already 5-0 inside the Octagon, fighting on big Pay Per View cards, collecting submissions and fight night bonuses. He’s reached the featherweight top five, just two years out from his UFC debut, and finally, Zabit is fighting in his very first UFC main event. Too bad it’s not a five-round fight.
The Zabit vs. Kattar main event is potentially a very big deal in the UFC featherweight division. Theoretically, Zabit could earn the next UFC featherweight title shot, but it will take the right kind of finish at UFC Moscow to propel Zabit to a championship fight. Also, a number of things would have to fall into place in order for it to be a lock …
Fortunately for Zabit, he’s been doing all the right things since joining the UFC in 2017. Making a big splash right out of the gate, Zabit was actually on the radar before he was even in the UFC. Then, he took the sport by storm, racking up three performance bonuses in his first three UFC fights.
The early success helped Zabit build a solid name as a top prospect at 145 pounds, and right now, all he really needs is a high profile win over another ranked opponent to begin his case for a title shot next. If Zabit can turn UFC Moscow into a showcase fight, he can essentially use the main event slot and performance to skyrocket directly into title talk.
However, when you’re fighting Calvin Kattar, it’s easier said than done …
Kattar, ranked eleventh at featherweight, has a really stellar UFC record. He’s beaten ranked opponents (Shane Burgos) and former title challengers (Ricardo Lamas). He’s fought on big cards and filled in on short notice, even requesting to go into enemy territory and face Zabit in Moscow. In short, Calvin Kattar is a complete gamer, and he has the meat and potatoes MMA game to be competitive with all the top featherweights in the world.
No stepping stone and a future potential title challenger himself, Kattar is a great test to see where Zabit is in his UFC progression. Whoever emerges victorious at UFC Moscow will be right in the thick of the featherweight title picture, but there’s so much more to the current makeup of the divisional landscape.
Beyond the UFC Moscow Main Event
Beating Calvin Kattar, convincingly, should be the only thing on Zabit Magomedsharipov’s mind at UFC Moscow, but he might be curious about the other pieces that will need to line up in order for him to earn a title shot …
For starters, all of this is predicated on the idea that Max Holloway beats Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 245. Should Volkanovski pull the upset, an immediate rematch would very much be warranted, as Holloway is a longstanding champ with several title defenses and numerous UFC featherweight records.
If Holloway and Volkanovski were to end up in a rematch situation, it would be ideal for Zabit to finally fight Yair Rodriguez, after the two were previously linked to a date back at UFC 228. A Zabit vs. Yair fight would be a highly marketable affair for the UFC, a hit in both Latin America and Europe, and could also produce a bonafide title challenger.
Additionally, there’s another intriguing fight in the UFC featherweight division before year’s end that could factor into the title picture. Second-ranked contender Brian Ortega is flying out to South Korean to fight Chan Sung Jung, “The Korean Zombie,” in Seoul. That bout, which will be the final UFC fight of 2019, has the potential to steal the headlines in the division, as both Ortega and “Korean Zombie” have been known to deliver highlight-reel performances.
Featherweights in 2020
There’s a lot riding on this UFC Moscow main event for Zabit Magomedsharipov if he wants to fight for the title soon.
A loss would be absolutely devastating to his title hopes, especially in a division as stacked as featherweight, and even a mediocre win could affect his stock.
Fortunately, Zabit is never mediocre.
Beginning his combat sports journey as a young child, Zabit studied at a martial arts academy in Russia, learning Sambo, Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, wrestling, and the like, every single day. Fighting lessons were as much a part of the curriculum as the arts and sciences, helping Zabit develop a vast skill set, along with ironclad focus.
Zabit is just so unorthodox that anything seems possible, and that’s part of his genius. He’s different. He moves different. He’s built different (6’1.5” and 145 with at 73-inch reach). He reacts different. And those are the types of variables that really intrigue viewers and fans.
Zabit Magomedsharipov has been absolutely lights out since joining the UFC, developing a unique style, distinguishing himself from the pack in just five fights. Now it’s time to see if he can seize the moment and earn the biggest and most important win of his career at UFC Moscow.
UFC Moscow Main Card on ESPN+ (11 a.m. PST / 2 p.m. EST)
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Calvin Kattar (three round main event)
Alexander Volkov vs. Greg Hardy
Danny Roberts vs. Zelim Imadaev
Ed Herman vs. Khadis Ibragimov
Anthony Rocco Martin vs. Ramzan Emeev
Shamil Gamzatov vs. Klidson Abreu
UFC Moscow Prelims on ESPN+ (8 a.m. PST / 11 a.m. EST)
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
Rustam Khabilov vs. Sergey Khandozhko
Karl Roberson vs. Roman Kopylov
Abubakar Nurmagomedov vs. David Zawada
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Alexander Yakovlev
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Pannie Kianzad
Grigorii Popov vs. Davey Grant
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