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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia reacts after his victory over Thiago Santos of Brazil in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Magomed Ankalaev’s Best Moments | UFC Fight Pass

UFC light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev’s rise in the UFC has been quiet and steady.

The 30-year-old from Dagestan enters his UFC 277 bout with Anthony Smith riding an eight-fight win streak and now has the perfect opportunity to announce himself as a true title contender.

If not for a last second Hail Mary submission loss to Paul Craig in his UFC debut, Ankalaev would be undefeated with an outstanding record of 18-0. Since then, Ankalaev (17-1) has cemented himself as the dark horse of the division with impressive wins over Ion Cutelaba (twice), Nikita Krylov, Volkan Oezdemir, and Thiago Santos.

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As we prepare to see if Ankalaev can extend his exceptional winning streak to nine straight, let’s look back at some of his best moments in the Octagon so far.

Magomed Ankalaev vs Marcin Prachnio

UFC Moscow – September 15, 2018

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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia punches Marcin Prachnio of Poland in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 15: (L-R) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia punches Marcin Prachnio of Poland in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Olimpiysky Arena on September 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Ankalaev delivered in a big way during the UFC’s first trip to Russia. From the opening second, Ankalaev seemed to be hunting a finish of Marcin Prachnio and he found it before the first round ended.

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Ankalaev sent Prachnio briefly to the floor with a beautiful check hook as Prachnio lunged in with a strike of his own. Then he followed it up with a powerful combination punctuated by a left high kick that sent Prachnio flying. Ankalaev added some extra ground-and-pound, forcing Herb Dean to call the fight.

It was the perfect place and way for Ankalaev to get his first UFC victory.

Magomed Ankalaev vs Dalcha Lungiambula

UFC Moscow – November 9, 2019

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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks out Dalcha Lungiambula of South Africa in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at CSKA Arena

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 09: (R-L) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks out Dalcha Lungiambula of South Africa in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at CSKA Arena on November 09, 2019 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


Ankalaev scored the biggest highlight of his career thus far against Dalcha Lungiambula. The two explosive strikers collided for just over two rounds in Russia. Ankalaev put an end to the chess match by connecting with a gorgeous front kick that Lungiambula never even saw coming.

This finish put everyone on notice – Ankalaev is for real.

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba 2

UFC 254 – October 24, 2020

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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks down Ion Cutelaba of Moldova in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 254 event

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 24: (R-L) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia knocks down Ion Cutelaba of Moldova in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 254 event on October 24, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)


The first meeting between Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba in Norfolk, VA, resulted in one of the more confusing moments we’ve seen in recent memory. It was a fast and furious start from Ankalaev, who peppered Cutelaba and forced the referee to stop the bout. The thing is, Cutelaba wasn’t hurt; he was playing possum. So, the UFC decided to run it right back and the two faced each other once again at UFC 254.

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Ankalaev put an end to any controversy by knocking Cutelaba clean out in the first round. It had to be a satisfying moment for Ankalaev and it helped push him into the UFC light heavyweight rankings.

Magomed Ankalaev vs Volkan Oezdemir

UFC 267 – October 30, 2021

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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia kicks Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 267 event

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 30: (R-L) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia kicks Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 267 event at Etihad Arena on October 30, 2021 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


Ankalaev’s first crack at the Top 10 came against the always dangerous Volkan Oezdemir. He passed the test with flying colors, controlling the fight, and frustrating Oezdemir each step of the way.

Fighters On The Rise | UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2

Ankalaev’s ability to measure distance, avoid Oezdemir’s power shots and dictate the pace of the bout showed that he was ready to compete with the division’s best.

Magomed Ankalaev vs Thiago Santos

UFC Vegas 50 – March 12, 2022

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Magomed Ankalaev of Russia punches Thiago Santos of Brazil in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 12: (R-L) Magomed Ankalaev of Russia punches Thiago Santos of Brazil in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


In his first UFC main event, Ankalaev was able to neutralize Thiago Santos’ attacks en route to the most significant victory of his career to date.

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Seeing Ankalaev go for five rounds showed that he’s built for main events and can still bring his dynamic skill set deep into the championship rounds.

 

Make sure you tune into UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2 to see if Ankalaev can get past former title challenger Anthony Smith and put himself in a prime spot to compete for the UFC light heavyweight title in the near future.

UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes, took place on Saturday, July 30, 2022 live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!