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Shavkat Rakhmonov of Uzbekistan reacts to his win in a welterweight fight during the UFC 285 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Shavkat Rakhmonov: ‘I’m Ready To Win The Welterweight Title’

UFC Welterweight Shavkat Rakhmonov Believes He’ll Finish Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson At UFC 296 And Prove That He Should Be Next To Fight For The Belt

In an interview setting, rising welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov is quick and to the point. It’s not that Rakhmonov is in a rush, but the 29-year-old from Kazakhstan is a man of few words who typically lets his actions in the Octagon do his talking for him.

Rakhmonov’s direct nature in interviews also carries over to how he conducts himself in a fight. Through 17 professional fights, Rakhmonov is a perfect 17-0 and he’s never been to the judges’ scorecards. That’s right, he’s finished every opponent that’s stood across from him, and he’s only seen the third round one time.

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For Rakhmonov, finishing fights is truly a simple concept.

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“If you’re good, you’re going to win by finish,” Rakhmonov told UFC.com.

And the Kill Cliff FC product aims to add a sixth UFC win by finish to his resume this weekend when he faces former welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson at UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington in Las Vegas.

Shavkat Rakhmonov's Athlete Profile | Five Rakhmonov Fights To Watch

There has been chatter and excitement about a fight between Rakhmonov and Thompson for some time, but other fights were booked for each fighter instead. Thompson was set to face Michel Pereira in July and Rakhmonov was scheduled to fight Kelvin Gastelum in September.

Fortunately for fans who wanted to see the Rakhmonov and Thompson matchup, fight cancelations on the sides of Pereira and Gastelum ended up pairing Rakhmonov and Thompson together for a high-stakes showdown on the final UFC event of 2023.

Rise Of Shavkat Rakhmonov
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Rise Of Shavkat Rakhmonov
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Thus far, we’ve seen a variety of skills from Rakhmonov, but we’ve never seen him tangle with a striker like Thompson and he’s excited to see how his skill set will align with Thompson’s unique style.

“I was happy when I found out that Stephen Thompson was my next opponent because he’s a great fighter and I like how he fights,” Rakhmonov said. “If you don’t look at his age, he’s still in top shape and at the top of his skills. He has great footwork and great striking and that’s why I’m excited.”

MORE UFC 296: Fight Card Preview | Main Event Breakdown | Covington In His Own Words  | MMA Coaches Break Down Main Event

A win over Thompson could also provide Rakhmonov with the spotlight he’s looking for to jump into the welterweight title conversation. Fans and experts alike have exclaimed that Rakhmonov has all the makings of a future champion, and he’s done his part by being nothing but impressive in his wins over Alex Oliveira, Michel Prazeres, Carlston Harris, Neil Magny, and Geoff Neal.

But to finish someone like Thompson, who has only been finished one time in his entire mixed martial arts career, could certainly propel Rakhmonov from the category of “a future champion” to “the next guy to become champion”.

And that’s what Rakhmonov aims to accomplish at UFC 296.

“I cannot predict the future, but I have to do whatever it takes to get the win,” Rakhmonov said. “[Beating Thompson will show] I’m ready to win the UFC welterweight belt.

“I finished all my fights and I’ll finish this one and that will mean that I’m ready for the title shot next.”

WATCH: UFC 296 Embedded | All Episodes

At 18-0 with nothing but finishes, Rakhmonov would have a sound argument for why he should be the next man to face the winner of Leon Edwards and Colby Covington. He knows that there are other contenders who are in the mix, but if he continues to finish fights, he knows he can’t be denied.

And that means there is only one thing Rakhmonov sees coming his way in 2024.

“The championship belt.” 

Order UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington

UFC 296: Edwards vs Covington took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 16, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass