Shavkat Rakhmonov thinks he’s more than capable of standing with Stephen Thompson.
Rakhmonov (17-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) takes on former title challenger Thompson (17-6-1 MMA, 12-6-1 UFC) on the main card of UFC 296 on Dec. 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
Thompson recently stated he expected Rakhmonov to take the fight to the ground, but the unbeaten rising star doesn’t necessarily see that as his path to victory.
“It depends how he will act, but I think my standing game is not worse than his,” Rakhmonov said through an interpreter on Morning Kombat. “I think I can beat him in standing game.”
With a 100 percent finish rate consisting of an array of submissions and knockouts, Rakhmonov certainly has the tools to stop “Wonderboy.” But Rakhmonov knows it won’t be an easy task.
“Nobody won him in standing game, but of course I mentioned that sometimes he misses shots,” Rakhmonov said. “I never seen him lose by choke. Only one time I remember Anthony Pettis won by knockout.”
Headlining UFC 296 will be a welterweight title fight between champion Leon Edwards and Colby Covington. Rakhmonov is leaning towards Edwards, but isn’t sure if beating Thompson makes him next in line for the champion, because Belal Muhammad (23-3, 14-3 UFC) is currently riding a 10-fight unbeaten streak at 170 pounds.
“I don’t know, it depends on what the UFC says, but I think Belal Muhammad also deserves the title shot,” Rakhmonov said. “As of now he will backup this fight (Edwards vs. Covington), but of course I’m ready.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 296.