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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!