Ali Bagautinov came to the UFC with plenty of advance hype, and he hopes to deliver once again at UFC 167. The powerful Russian flyweight gets a formidable challenge against no. 7 ranked Tim Elliott in Las Vegas. “Puncher” is a Combat Sambo world champion who has finished nine opponents in his 11 career victories.
His tremendous power was on display in his Octagon debut against Marcos Vinicius at UFC Fight Night 28 in Brazil. Bagautinov leveled his opponent in the final round in earning the third-round stoppage to improve to 11-2.
There’s no doubt Bagautinov has the power and submission game to be a threat to any 125-pound fighter, but he will getting an extremely tough, durable opponent in Elliott. Elliott looked terrific in his last fight at UFC 164 as he manhandled Louis Gaudinot en route to a three-round unanimous decision.
Elliott has a strong wrestling background and is capable of grinding out his opponents with a strong ground-and-pound game. He’s recorded back-to-back victories inside the Octagon after losing in his debut to hard-hitting former title challenger and current no. 2 contender John Dodson.
Elliott will likely be just fine trying to score takedowns and take advantage of his tremendous work rate against Bagautinov. While the Russian did deliver an explosive finish against Vinicius, there were portions of that fight where he wasn’t active. That’s something he won’t be able to do against Elliott, who sets a furious pace.
Bagautinov has tremendous power and Elliott does possess a sturdy chin. Something will likely give in what shapes up as an entertaining and meaningful affair in the flyweight division. If Bagautinov is victorious, he’ll be elevated into top-10 territory in relatively short order. However, if Elliott secures a third-straight win, he’ll be knocking on top-5 territory and will move himself into title contention.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports