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Stone in Poatan's shoe? Ankalaev is based in grappling, but has never submitted in the UFC; see statistics

Touted as the Brazilian's next rival, the Russian comes from sambo and honed his striking game in his career in MMA

Magomed Ankalaev should be the next challenger for Alex Poatan's belt. Photo: Reproduction/Twitter

Magomed Ankalayev should be the next challenger for the belt Alex Poatán. Photo: Reproduction/Twitter

Magomed Ankalayev, named as the favorite to be the next challenger for the UFC light heavyweight (up to 93kg) belt, presents himself as an enigma for the champion Alex Poatán.

On the one hand, his grappling is seen as a danger for the Brazilian, known for his sharp striking. On the other hand, a curious statistic emerges: the Russian has never submitted an opponent in his entire career.


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Alex Poatan defeated Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291. Photo: Reproduction/Twitter UFC Japan

With 18 victories, ten by knockout and eight by decision, the Russian boasts an impressive record. However, unlike other Dagestan fighters such as Islam makhachev ou Khabib Nurmagomedov, known for their dominance over their opponents on the ground, Ankalaev prefers to explore high kicks and stand-up striking.

Ankalaev's statistics in the UFC grappling fight

– Takedown accuracy of just 31% in the UFC: Ankalaev landed just ten takedowns every 32 attempts.


– Average falls of 1.02 every 15 minutes: A low number for those who stand out for grappling.

– Only one fight ended on top and on the ground in the UFC: Contra Anthony Smith, in 2021, when the North American injured his leg and attempted a takedown in desperation.


Russian has a history in sambo

Before venturing into MMA, Ankalaev followed a successful path in sambo, a form of Russian martial arts. In 2013, he won the gold medal at the WMMAA World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.

In 2015, he won the Russian Championship, consolidating his talent, including against renowned talents, such as Vadim nemkov and Valentin Moldavsky, coached by Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko. His career in the UFC, which began in 2018, was marked by exciting fights and consistent victories. In his most recent fight, he knocked out Johnny Walker in a brutal way, demonstrating his knockout power.


Will Poatan fall?

Aware of his abilities and confident in his potential, Ankalaev does not hide his ambition to win the belt. On his social networks, he has already provoked Poatan, declaring that he would knock him out and that he wouldn't need takedowns to win.

“All these guys in the top 5 got knocked out. I'm the best light heavyweight on the planet. None of these guys are on my level and now I can fight the champion and I believe he is not scared of me like the others. Believe me, I'm going to knock Alex out. I don't need to drop him. This guy's chin is gone, but I know he's dangerous”, declared the fighter on his official 'X' account (formerly Twitter).

The statistic that Ankalaev never submitted an opponent could be seen as a weakness by some. However, for others, it represents an opportunity for Poatan to exploit gaps in the Russian's grappling and maintain his dominance.

Poatan is defended by former champion amid persecution suffered in the UFC

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