Another fighter from Dagestan with huge potential is about to arrive in the UFC.
Askar Askarov (10-0) made his professional MMA debut in 2013 before getting signed by ACB in just his fourth contest. He ran through their flyweight division in short order and received a title shot after improving his MMA record to 7-0. Askarov went on to defeat UFC alum, Jose Maria Tome, to claim the ACB flyweight belt and continued his dominance when he overcame Anthony Leone and Rasul Albaskhanov in subsequent title defenses. Still undefeated and with an impressive 100% finishing rate, the 26-year-old is ready to make the transition to the UFC after not competing for close to a year and a half.
“I grew up in ACB as a fighter and I will always be very grateful to them,” said Askarov. “They offered me a new contract but I wanted to try my hand in the UFC. Negotiations went on for a long time since the UFC were thinking about closing my division. Now they have signed me, it is clear that they have plans for the flyweights going forwards.”
Askarov began as a freestyle wrestler and this can still be seen in his style today. He frequently uses his grappling base to wear his opponents down and stop them late, which has seen him finish seven out of his ten wins by submission.
As a child, Askarov watched video cassettes of the UFC and dreamed of one day fighting for the promotion with the ultimate aim of becoming champion. That’s what catapulted him into making the transition to MMA but he has arguably had to overcome more than the majority of other fighters. Askarov was born deaf and although his hearing has improved slightly, he can still only hear about 20% of the sounds that the majority of people can. This leaves him at a disadvantage compared to other fighters as he can’t hear instructions from his corner during competition. However, one positive of this is that he won’t be aware of the likely hostile atmosphere provided by the Mexican crowd because of his opponent’s heritage on Saturday night.
“I won’t be able to hear people chanting against me so my surroundings will not affect the fight at all,” explained Askarov. “Also, we know that the air is very heavy in Mexico with most of the land being 2000 meters above sea level, so we adapted our preparations because of this. My coaches and I arrived about two weeks before the fight so we could adjust to the conditions.”
He is looking for his eleventh straight win on fight night but the recently re-signed flyweight, Brandon Moreno (15-5), will be doing all he can to prevent that from happening. Moreno was let go by the UFC after losing consecutive bouts to Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja but rebounded with a title victory at LFA 69 where he defeated Maikel Perez by fourth round TKO to earn a second opportunity in the leading promotion. Moreno was once touted as a future title challenger and his all-action style has earned him finishes in 12 of his 15 professional wins. The Mexican has also never been finished in his five losses, so if Askarov can continue his stoppage streak, he will make a real statement to the rest of the division.
“Moreno is a versatile competitor who can fight in different stances,” stated Askarov. “He has finished many of his opponents just like me so I think it will be a great fight. I never go in with the intention of getting a stoppage. If the opportunity presents itself, I will take it but I am always prepared to go the distance too. I am definitely looking to enter the top ten of the division with a victory!”
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez v Stephens can be seen on BT Sport 1 at 1am BST early tomorrow morning for fans in the UK/Ireland. American viewers can tune in on ESPN + at 8pmET/7pmC.
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