22 Jul 2024 03:44

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Big wins for Robert Whittaker, Alexander Volkov, and Shara Magomedov on historic night for UFC® in Saudi Arabia

UFC® made history with its first event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on an unforgettable night at the Kingdom Arena.

Fight fans in the capital had been treated to a host of UFC Fight Week activities, with Saturday night’s spectacle living up to all expectations with a compelling lineup of matches.

UFC President and CEO, Dana White, said: “It is all new, interesting, and fun, my first time here, and our first time here, we had over 12,000 people in the arena and it was a great experience.”

In the main event, Australia’s Robert Whittaker delivered a spectacular performance, stopping Russia’s Ikram Aliskerov in the first round. Former champion and current No.3 middleweight Whittaker showed all his experience in finishing the highly touted Aliskerov, who had previously lost only once in his sixteen-fight professional career. Whittaker improves his overall record to 26-7 with eyes firmly on another title shot in the future.

Whittaker has spoken of his delight in making history in Riyadh, and the support he had received from local fans.

“I have been lucky enough to travel the world and fight in very exotic places and I have been able to tick off a lot of history. To be here for the first Saudi event in history, I am very lucky.”

“It is always a little bit surprising to see that I have fans in different parts of the world, and how many fans I have,” he said.

“The Aussie Aussie Aussie chants – I loved them – I could tell they weren’t Aussies but to have that support here means the world to me.”

In a battle of Russian heavyweights, Alexander Volkov secured one of the biggest wins of his career, defeating the No.3 ranked Sergei Pavolvich in the evening’s co-main event. Volkov extended his unbeaten run to four fights, improving to 38-10 overall.

Earlier in the week, he thanked the Saudi Arabian fans for the welcome they had given him ahead of the bout. “I liked how people met me and how friendly they were – it was amazing,” he said. “This is the first UFC show here but the fans know so much about the fighters. People are so open and so welcoming and I am just enjoying spending time with the fans. I really appreciate the warm welcome the people of Saudi Arabia have given to me.”

Russia’s Shara Magomedov was a popular winner as he stopped Brazilian debutant Antonio Trocoli in the third round of their middleweight contest. Magomedov came into the fight unbeaten in his professional career with a perfect 12-0, and rarely looked in danger against an opponent who had taken the bout on short notice. The Russian had dominated the opening two rounds with accurate, technical striking, particularly his kicks, but in the final round it was his hands and heavy shots to the head and body that would eventually bring the fight to an early conclusion.

Speaking after the fight, Magomedov spoke of his pride on a historic night. “This is a huge honour for me to be on this first historic card in Saudi Arabia. I was waiting for this opportunity for such a long time,” he said.

America’s Kelvin Gastelum improved to 18-9-1NC with a unanimous decision win over compatriot Daniel Rodriguez.

Opening the main card, No.9-ranked light-heavyweight Volken Oezdemir secured a stunning first-round knockout win over the No.5-ranked Johnny Walker.

In the night’s featured Prelim contest, Morocco’s Nasrat Haqparast furthered his top-15 credentials in the lightweight division with a hard-fought split decision win over Jared Gordon. Both fighters traded strikes toe-to-toe for the full 15 minutes, but the Moroccan was able to secure his fourth consecutive win at 155lbs.


Main Card

Robert Whittaker def. Ikram Aliskerov vis knockout at 1:49 of Round 1

Alexander Volkov def. Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision

Kelvin Gastelum def. Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision

Shara Magomedov def. Antonio Trocoli via TKO at 2:27 of Round 3

Volkan Oezdemir def. Johnny Walker via knockout at 2:28 of Round 1


Nasrat Haqparast def. Jared Gordon via split decision

Felipe Lima def. Muhammad Naimov via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:15 of Round 3

Rinat Fakhretdinov def. Nicolas Dalby via split decision

Muin Gafurov def. Kang Kyung Ho via unanimous decision

Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def. Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision

Lee Chang Ho def. Xiao Long via split decision

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