UFC on ESPN+ 21 breakdown: Zabit Magomedsharipov, Calvin Kattar a battle of circles vs. lines

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the three-round main event for UFC on ESPN+ 21.

UFC on ESPN+ 21 takes place Saturday at CSKA Arena in Moscow. The card streams on ESPN+.

Zabit Magomedsharipov (17-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC)

Staple info:

Height: 6’1″ Age: 28 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 73″
Last fight: Decision win over Jeremy Stephens (March 2, 2019)
Camp: Ricardo Almeida Jiu-jitsu (New Jersey)
Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA title

+ Wrestling and wushu sanda base

+ Multiple wushu sanda titles

+ 6 knockout victories

+ 7 submission wins

+ 5 first-round finishes

+ Good feints and footwork

+ Accurate and assorted shot selection

+ Dynamic kicking attacks

+ Excellent wrestling ability

^ Chains takedowns seamlessly

+ Superb rides from topside

^ Floats and transitions well

+ Savvy submissions and ground strikes

Calvin Kattar (20-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC)

Staple info:

Height: 5’11” Age: 31 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 72″
Last fight: TKO win over Ricardo Lamas (June 8, 2019)
Camp: Lauzon MMA (Boston, Mass.)
Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA titles

+ Wrestling base

+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt

+ 10 knockout victories

+ 2 submission wins

+ 10 first-round finishes

+ Good feints and footwork

+ Accurate shot selection

^ Works well off of left hand

+ Solid wrestling ability

^ Defensively and offensively

+ Shows serviceable grappling

^ Positional awareness and fundamentals

+ Active ground striker

Point of interest: Lines vs. circles

The main event for Moscow features a fun pairing of featherweight contenders who are looking to state their cases as the next contenders for the 145-pound title. Due to the late promotion of the contest to the night’s headlining bout, it is scheduled for three rounds rather than five.

Starting off on the feet, we will likely be in store for a matchup between two men who carry somewhat opposing themes to their striking.

Coming from an extensive background in wushu sanda, Zabit Magomedsharipov tends to flow off of a more circular theme to his striking.

A popular combat sport from China that stems from kung fu, wushu sanda is one of the prominent martial arts systems found in multiple regions of Dagestan. Magomedsharipov, however, was lucky enough to be indoctrinated into the arts by the sport’s founding father in Dagestan, Gusein Magomaev.

It was at Magomaev’s academy, “Five Directions of the World,” where Magomedsharipov spent more than a decade of his youth studying this well-versed version of wushu sanda. Unlike traditional wushu or kung fu, wushu sanda schools in Dagestan are not beyond integrating wrestling and transitional takedowns into their repertoire, as well as imparting more modern kickboxing fundamentals to their students.

You could argue that Magomedsharipov could be the poster child of this martial art and its potential within MMA with the way in which he’s able to translate his life-long skillset into the octagon. Having a deeply ingrained sense of range, Magomedsharipov can seamlessly switch his stances, showing well-balanced offense and defense from both sides.

Whether he is offering dynamic kicks and counter crosses from his southpaw stance or throwing more boxing-centric hooks and uppercuts from orthodox, Magomedsharipov variates his shots with an almost preternatural, pinpoint accuracy that’s somewhat reminiscent to Jon Jones. The difference, however, is that the 28-year-old Dagestani seems to keep a certain circular, counter-balancing flow to his strikes that feeds his rhythm and promotes more building than the subtle trap-setting we see from the current light heavyweight champion.

Nevertheless, as impressive as the proverbial circles that Magomedsharipov operates within are, he will still need to mind any type of patterns or openings that could get him countered by the punctual, straight-shooting tactician in Calvin Kattar.

Quietly crafting his tools in and out the regional scene for roughly a decade, Kattar enters with some fundamentally sound striking and well-earned momentum. Whether he is coming forward or sticking and moving, Kattar does a great job of keeping his feet underneath him, occasionally shifting stances when he finds his groove.

Typically working behind a high guard, Kattar maintains solid shoulder and head position, protecting his chin from the majority of hard punches that come his way. Kattar, who trains with a lot of pro boxers, also does well at diversifying his shot selection from a boxing perspective.

From slipping offline to changing his level, he offers options to both the body and the head. Wielding a stinging jab (both defensively and offensively), Kattar will either use it to disrupt his opponent’s striking rhythms or allow it to help set up punishing hooks and crosses once establishing his range.

Still, as impressive as Kattar’s boxing is, the New England native is not beyond being tagged to the body and legs with kicks due to his boxing-centric stance and guard. But as the old kung fu adage says, “Lines beat circles and circles beat lines.”

Next point of interest: Wrestling warfare

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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