Said Nurmagomedov will meet Muin Gafurov in one of the most promising bouts this weekend. Will the Russian be able to defeat the fighter from Tajikistan at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi? Here is our Nurmagomedov vs Gafurov prediction.
UFC 294: Nurmagomedov vs Gafurov Prediction
We can hardly hope for a better bout to kick off the main card of UFC 294. These are two of the most inspiring prospects in the Bantamweight division. More importantly, both fighters are coming from a defeat in their last bout. They will be as confident as possible for a win in Abu Dhabi.
Said Nurmagomedov Preview
Said Nurmagomedov is a former World Fighting Championship Akhmat (WFCA) Bantamweight Champion and the 2013 World MMA Champion. The 31-year-old Dagestani has been performing at the professional level since 2009 although he had no fights between his debut and mid-2013.
In his last fight in March 2023, the Russian lost to American Jonathan Martinez (unanimous decision) and broke a streak of four victories in a row. Before that defeat, he won against Kakhramonov, Andrade, Stamann, and Striegl, which helped him earn a spot in the Top 15 in the Bantamweight division. After his defeat, he is no longer among the ranked fighters.
Nurmagomedov has 17 victories (three by knockout, eight by decision, six by submission) and three defeats. His record since joining the UFC is 6-2.
Nurmagomedov is an active fighter and generally an all-rounder. He can fight on his feet and he has solid grappling skills. He generally lands about 3.5 significant strikes per minute and his accuracy is about 50%. It should be noted that he prefers boxing to wrestling and generally does not shoot for takedowns. He averages one takedown per match. It should also be noted that his takedown defense is solid and he neutralizes 65% of the attempts of his opponents.
Muin Gafurov Preview
Muin Gafurov will play only his second fight in Dana White’s league. In his debut in June 2023, he lost to American John Castaneda (unanimous). The 27-year-old fighter from Central Asia has 19 victories (ten by knockout, one by decision, eight by submission) and five defeats.
Before the UFC, he competed in the American promotion Legacy Fighting Alliance. Gafurov defeated Brazilian Herbert Reisa de Souza (knockout) in October 2022 and won the LFA championship belt after which he joined the UFC, losing his debut to John Castaneda.
It is curious but he also appeared on Dana White's Contender Series in 2021 and lost to Chad Anheliger via split decision.
What can we say about Gafurov? He prefers to fight on his feet but also relies on wrestling and this gives us a good base for a Nurmagomedov vs Gafurov prediction. We expect to see a knockout or a submission in this fight.
Gafurov lands an average of 3 strikes per minute and his accuracy is lower than that of Nurmagomedov (41%). He definitely relies on takedowns when the fight is not going his way and has averaged around 2.5 takedowns per match. His takedown defense is also commemorable (62%).
Said Nurmagomedov vs Muin Gafurov: Early Victory for the Russian
Bookmakers consider Nurmagomedov the clear favorite for the upcoming fight. We generally agree with them for our Nurmagomedov vs Gafurov prediction and we envision a KO. Gafurov is a good fighter, but he was clearly not prepared for the level in the UFC. It will be very difficult for him to succeed in a fight with a more experienced opponent like Nurmagomedov. The Russian's takedown defense skills should be enough to neutralize Gafurov's attempts. It is true that Nurmagomedov scored most of his wins via decision but his chances here for an early finish are higher than usual.
• Nurmagomedov via KO/TKO/Submission