KEYlock UFC Vegas 47: Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Carlston Harris

Welcome to KEYlock! Named after the keylock submission, KEYlock is a new weekly article that highlights one non-main event bout from the upcoming UFC fight card, and explores why it deserves your attention.

After a weekend away, the UFC returns this Saturday with UFC Vegas 47, headlined by Jack Hermansson vs Sean Strickland.

My KEYlock for UFC Vegas 47 is Shavkat Rakhmonov vs Carlston Harris, for one simple reason; Shavkat Rakhmonov.

Shavkat Rakhmonov may not be one of the most familiar names on the UFC roster, but he WILL be. The 27-year-old boasts a perfect 14-0 professional record, with all 14 victories by way of stoppage (7 KO/TKO, 7 submission). Incredibly, since turning professional in 2014 at 19 years of age, the Kazakhstani has only entered the third round once; at 24 years old, Rakhmonov became the M1 Global Welterweight champion, and successfully defended it. However, whilst all this amounts to an impressive curriculum vitae, it’s only half the story; it is Rakhmonov’s performances in the octagon, and level of opponents, that truly make this prospect one to watch.

Rakhmonov made his UFC debut October 24th 2020, at UFC 254, against a formidable opponent in Alex Oliveira, who entered the contest with an 11-6 (1 NC) promotional record, and rode a two fight win-streak. The Kazakhstani stood toe-to-toe with Oliveira in the initial stand-up, before a knee leading to punches from Rakhmonov forced Oliveira to cover up then clinch to close the distance. Rakhmonov was resolute in the clinch, and it was an Oliveira move to the double leg that allowed Rakhmonov to capitalise and secure a first-round guillotine submission.

Rakhmonov made his second, and latest, promotional appearance June 26th 2021, at UFC Vegas 30, against Michel Prazeres, who entered the bout with a 10-3 promotional record.  In the second round, a spinning heel kick from Rakhmonov rocked Prazeres; the Kazakhstani followed with a knee that lead Prazeres into attempting a takedown.  After defending the takedown attempt, Rakhmonov seized his opportunity as Prazeres tripped to the ground, using brutal ground-and-pound to lead Prazeres into giving up his back; Rakhmonov capitalised by securing the rear-naked choke submission.

To contextualise the standard of performance Rakhmonov has displayed in his two octagon performances, the Kazakhstani has fought two high-level, experienced opponents with a combined promotional record of 21-9 (1 NC). In both contests, Rakhmonov displayed a 100% takedown defence. Remarkably, Rakhmonov is the first, and only, fighter to finish Michel Prazeres in a professional bout.

You better believe the Welterweight division knows the threat Rakhmonov poses. Indeed, speaking prior to his bout with Sean Brady regarding undefeated Welterweight prospects, Top 10 ranked UFC Welterweight Michael Chiesa said “Everybody talks about Khamzat Chimaev, and I think you’ve got to include Sean Brady in that conversation, and you’ve got to include Shavkat Rakhmonov in that conversation”.

Rakhmonov’s matchup with Carlston Harris at UFC Vegas 47 marks the first UFC main card appearance for the Kazakhstani. Make no mistake, whilst Rakhmonov enters the bout a moderate favourite, he faces a formidable opponent in Carlston Harris. The Guyanese Welterweight is himself 2-0 in the UFC, with both victories via first-round stoppage (1 TKO, 1 submission). Furthermore, in Rakhmonov’s two octagon appearances, he has been caught with a big punch in each respective bout; whilst he has showed a great chin, there is still further development needed for the young Kazakh fighter.

With a stoppage victory over Carlston Harris at UFC Vegas 47, it will be difficult to argue against Rakhmonov facing a Top 15 ranked Welterweight next. Partnering the performances seen so far, the standard of his competition, and his young age, there is a sense of witnessing the start of something special with Shavkat Rakhmonov; do not miss this prospect in action Saturday February 5th!

Please note, this article is an opinion piece, and solely the opinion of the author.

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