Timothy Elliott (10-3-1, 2-1 UFC) vs. Ali Bagautinov (11-2, 1-0 UFC)
Two flyweight fighters making quick turnarounds debut on a pay-per-view main card in the opening bout of the UFC 167 main card as Timothy Elliott and Ali Bagautinov fight for the chance to put themselves in the 125-pound title mix. Elliott fights for the fourth time inside the Octagon and is looking to extend a current two-fight win streak. He is coming off a decision win over Louis Gaudinot at UFC 164 in August. Bagautinov makes his second appearance in the UFC and is looking to extend his nine-fight win streak. He debuted in the UFC with a knockout win over Marcos Vinicius at UFC Fight Night 28 in September.
Fight Breakdown- Both men are coming back after fighting relatively recently. Elliott fought on August 31 while Bagautinov fought on September 4. Elliott is accustomed to quick turnarounds as he made his UFC debut on short notice as an injury replacement. It was a tough match-up for Elliott for sure as he debuted against John Dodson, who had just won season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and was on his way towards a title shot. Elliott went the distance with Dodson but suffered a unanimous decision loss. He was still impressive in that bout, and he has since won two straight fights. He scored a unanimous decision win over Jared Papazian at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale in December 2012, and they earned the bonus for “Fight Of The Night”. His win over Louis Gaudinot at UFC 164 was a dominant victory and moved him up into the seventh spot in the UFC’s current rankings for flyweight. Elliott went winless in his first three professional MMA bouts, but he has since won ten of eleven fights to cement himself as a 125-pound contender.
Bagautinov is a very explosive fighter and he doesn’t like going to a decision. He started his MMA career with just a 2-2 record over his first four fights, but he has since won nine straight fights and is looking to break into the top ten of the flyweight rankings. Bagautinov is an International Master of Sports in Sambo amongst other accolades, and his wrestling is some of the strongest in the sport, and possibly the best pure wrestling at 125 pounds. He is explosive, though, and prefers to end fights, especially with his hands. His win over Marcos Vinicius in September showed his skillset as he was able to land a big right hand on Vinicius and finish the fight with brutal ground-and-pound. Bagautinov has only been the distance in two of his eleven wins and he has scored five wins by knockout and four by submission. While he has suffered two losses early in his career, those both came by decision so he has yet to be finished during his career.
While Bagautinov is an accomplished takedown artist, when it comes to the way these two men fight inside the cage, it would seem to indicate this fight of being more of a wrestler against striker bout. Bagautinov is an agressive stand-up fighter who likes to finish fights with his hands, and when he finds an opponent in trouble, he will swarm on them and do everything he can to finish the bout. Elliott was a college wrestler, and in his wins over Papazian and Gaudinot, it was his wrestling and ground-and-pound that overwhelmed his opponents and led him to the win. He is aggressive as well, but not as flashy on the feet as Bagautinov except when he gets in trouble. Dodson was beating him on the feet when they fought and Elliott brought out an aggressive approach with a lot of flashy striking, and it likely cost him the decision. If he does the same against Bagautinov, then he could be knocked out. It was only that since he was unable to get Dodson down that Elliott went to the aggressive approach, and he will likely fall into that routine in this bout as he probably will have trouble getting Bagautinov down.
Elliott fights as a southpaw and Bagautinov can take advantage of that. Bagautinov should look to land nice counters and keep some distance between them as he looks to set up knockout range. Elliott likes to fight in close range and use combinations to set up his takedowns and Bagautinov’s grappling is very good. Bagautinov is very good at creating sweeps and scrambles on the ground, and he transitions well on the mat looking for submission attempts. It will be his ground game that will likely be on more of a display here, but his power always has the chance to end a fight at any moment. Bagautinov has very good offense and pushes a very fast pace and Elliott will need to keep his composure if he wants to find himself not in a whole heap of trouble. This is a very good test for both men as the winner becomes an instant contender in the flyweight division. This could be a very fun war as well and has the chance to be fight of the night. In the end, it is Bagautinov’s power and ability to push the pace that will be able to neutralize Elliott’s wrestling. He may not be able to finish Elliott but Bagautinov should take home the win.
Why It Matters- Elliott is already ranked in the top ten at 125 pounds while Bagautinov is not. A win for Elliott could move him up to the top five, and a win Bagautinov would definitely put him inside the top ten. Elliott winning would be three straight wins in the UFC and would put him next in line for either a title fight or a title eliminator. A win would be Bagautinov’s tenth straight win and second in the UFC and would put him one step closer for entering the title picture. This is the first chance for both men to shine on a big stage as they get an opportunity on the main card that could have easily gone to Donald Cerrone and Evan Dunham. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the pressure in front of a large audience.
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, UFC 167