Two lightweights will be looking to continue their winning ways in the UFC when they square off on the main card of Fight for the Troops 3 in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Impressive newcomer Rustam Khabilov will battle the well-traveled and highly-experienced Jorge Masvidal in a fight that has tremendous potential.
Khabilov has been quick to make an immediate impression with the organization thanks to his highlight-reel suplexes. The Combat Sambo practitioner was victorious against Vinc Pinchel in his debut. Khabilov hurt his opponent with a suplex in the opening round and followed with a flurry of punches to seal the deal.
It was another first-round finish in Khabilov’s second Octagon appearance as he defeated Yancy Medeiros at UFC 159. Medeiros suffered a dislocated thumb on a takedown and was unable to continue. Khabilov, who made a name for himself in the M-1 promotion before joining the UFC, is an impressive 16-1. A victory over Masvidal would definitely be the biggest on his resume to date.
As for Masvidal, he’s adamant that Khabilov won’t be able to toss him around the way he did his previous opponents. “Gamebred” has certainly faced stiffer competition in a career that has also seen him compete in Strikeforce, Sengoku and Bellator. His most high-profile fight was a five-round decision loss in 2011 to then-Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. During his welterweight, days he also went the distance against the hard-hitting Paul Daley.
Masvidal has 25 career victories, with 10 of them coming by knockout. His tendency is to be involved in high-action affairs, combined with Khabilov’s skills, could make this an extremely explosive battle in the 155-pound weight class. Masvidal has secured UFC victories over Tim Means and most recently Michael Chiesa. He choked out Chiesa in the second round of their contest at UFC on FOX 8, handing him his first career loss.
Both men are intent on keeping the momentum building as they look to move on to bigger things in an extremely stacked division. We’ll definitely find out a lot more about Khabilov when he faces his most difficult career challenge in Masvidal.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports