Nothing came easy but Damir Ismagulov remained undefeated in the octagon with a hard-fought split decision over Guram Kutateladze at UFC Austin.
It was an intense fight, but Ismagulov was more successful in striking than wrestling. He used his jabs to punish Kutateladze round by round and won the bout. The judges scored the fight 30-27 and 29-28 for Ismagulov with the third judge going 29-28 for Kutateladze.
Still, two scorecards was all Ismagulov needed to move to 21-1 in his career.
“UFC — next big fight, I am ready. After the fight, Top 15,” Ismagulov spoke. There’s always a new king in this jungle. Although I’m a skilled wrestler, I would like to present an entertaining show for UFC .
Ismagulov was looking to get within striking distance of Kutateladze so that he could start his takedowns. Kutateladze countered with a series of strikes, including some very nasty kicks to the legs and elbows to the side. This really began to chip away at Kutateladze.
Kutateladze was patient yet relentless with his combinations as he kept backing up Ismagulov, who wasn’t landing with as much power yet he was still firing back with a stiff jab down the middle that served as his best punch.
Kutateladze was beginning to be frustrated by Ismagulov’s great footwork and movement. He could throw punches, then get out of his way to hit back. Kutateladze refused to stop fighting Ismagulov, and kept going after him with large looping punches and hard kicks.
Ismagulov continued to use his lead jab, consistently mashing Kutateladze across the face. This resulted into cuts along the cheek and nose. Despite the damage done, Kutateladze was undeterred as he continued to target the lead leg and then going back up top to the head.
The exchanges continued until the final horn but it appeared that Ismagulov’s boxing and the punishment he dished out over three rounds was the difference on the scorecards.
Ismagulov looked serious since his arrival in the UFC, but this victory is his most significant to-date as he targets ranked opponents.