Unstoppable Kazakh Beast: Rakhmonov Submits Thompson, Eyes Title Shot

The fantastic Kazakh registered his 18th win in his 18th professional appearance, and all 18 wins were by stoppage

by Sededin Dedovic
Unstoppable Kazakh Beast: Rakhmonov Submits Thompson, Eyes Title Shot
© Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

The "main card" of UFC 296 witnessed an age-defying clash in its third fight. Forty-year-old "Wonderboy" Stephen Thompson stood across the octagon from Shavkat Rakhmonov. The match promised fireworks, but the first round was quite lukewarm.

Rakhmonov dominated the clinch against the cage fence, suffocating Thompson's movement and looking for a takedown. Wonderboy fought defensively, avoiding the choke just 50 seconds before the end of the round. The audience, hungry for action, responded with loud disapproval.

The second round started brighter. Thompson landed a sharp right hand and a sharp side kick, momentarily disrupting Rahmonov's rhythm. The Kazakh retaliated with a rip attempt, which Thompson skilfully avoided. However, Shawkat grabbed his opponent by the ankle, forcing him to lean against the cage.

Another clinch ensued, followed by more crowd displeasure. Then came the crucial moment. Rakhmonov caught Thompson's leg, using the "one leg" technique to knock him down with two minutes left in the round. Suddenly a fight broke out.

Rahmonov mounted Thompson, looking for a choke in the back. A grimace contorted Wonderboy's face, hinting at imminent submission. However, showing veteran resilience, Thompson fought off the choke and escaped from the precarious position.

Shavkat, refusing to concede, latched onto Thompson's back again and secured the choke once more. This time, the posture seemed deeper, the silence in the arena thick with anticipation. With five seconds left in the round, Thompson tapped out, succumbing to the choke for the first time in his 25-fight career.

18 wins 18 breaks

Rakhmonov, the 29-year-old Kazakh phenom, maintained his perfect record: 18 wins, 18 stops. This marked his 10th submission win, a stat that will surely send chills down the spines of his light heavyweight rivals.

More importantly, it moved him further up the challenger ladder, potentially threatening Belal Muhammad's runner-up position. For Thompson, the defeat undoubtedly hurts. Despite a valiant effort, he slides a rung down the ladder of challengers.

With Belal Muhammad likely next in line to win the title, all eyes are now on Rahmon and his next challenge. The Kazakh is an important name in the UFC, and his journey is far from over.