Video Credit: ESPN

FSM Recap: UFC Fight Night – Robert Whittaker vs Ikram Aliskerov


The Reaper took another dominant win on his road back to the UFC middleweight belt.


UFC Fight Night - Robert Whittaker vs Ikram Aliskerov | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: ESPN

Though there was a change-up in the main event, the first fight night in Saudi Arabia was an absolute success. Coming on five days’ notice, Felipe Lima found a way to have a successful UFC debut. Volkan Oezdemir wasted “No Time” as he won his second fight in a row with a round-one finish.

Shara Magomedov put on a massive flurry of strikes to finish Joilton Lutterbach in the third round TKO. Kelvin Gastelum and Daniel Rodriguez had a competitive matchup in their move up to the middleweight division. Alexander Volkov beat his former training partner with a beautiful, striking performance.

To end the entire night, Robert Whittaker made little work of his last-minute opponent, knocking out Ikram Aliskerov in round one.


Main Event – Robert Whittaker vs. Ikram Aliskerov


UFC Fight Night - Robert Whittaker vs Ikram Aliskerov | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC /Getty Images

In the first round, both fighters looked to take their time and find an opening. Whittaker landed the first couple of hits as Aliskerov tried to dodge. Aliskerov eventually started throwing his strikes and looked to assert himself. He was trying to move forward, but Whittaker would use that to help close the distance and land a quick jab. Whittaker would do the same thing whenever he countered. This strategy would throw Aliskerov out of rhythm.

This would continue until Aliskerov tried to set up a head kick, but Whittaker would counter with an overhand right. This badly wobbled Aliskerov. Whittaker would try to land a jab, hook, and head kick combo, but the kick didn’t connect. Whittaker slowed down for a second to land the precise blow. He would find that an uppercut straight to the chin, dropping Alisekerov. Whittaker would land a few more hits until the ref stopped the fight at 1:49 in round one. 

Though the fight didn’t go as planned, this will not hurt Ikram Aliskerov’s career. He took a main event fight on less than two weeks’ notice against one of the greatest middleweights. This performance is nothing to be sad about, and it is a great learning experience for him. Plus, Aliskerov has the support of the UFC and will get a proper opponent. He’ll be back.

For Robert Whittaker, this was an excellent performance to be happy about. He finished the fight quickly and didn’t suffer any significant damage. During the post-fight interview, Whittaker gave his thoughts on how he found the finish. 


“I told everyone in the lead-up to this fight “I’m going to lean on my experience,” and that’s exactly what it was, it was experience,” Whittaker said. “I’ve been in this position a hundred times. I understand what I’m doing. I told you, “I’m going to be the hunter,” and that’s exactly what I did.”


UFC Fight Night - Robert Whittaker vs Ikram Aliskerov | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC /Getty Images

In the post-fight show, Whittaker was asked who he wanted next. He said he wants to be the backup fighter for UFC 305: Dricus Du Plessis vs. Israel Adesanya

I’m in good health,” he said. “I exited this fight hardly hurt. And it’s in my home country. How could I say no? It’s right around the corner.

Though he wants to be the backup fighter, he’s in a tough situation to get that opportunity because of former champion Sean Strickland. Strickland recently fought Du Plessis in a close battle that could’ve gone his way. Plus, when he fought Adesanya, he beat him badly. So whoever wins between Du Plessis and Adesanya in August most likely Strickland will be the next challenger. This leads to Whittaker having three main options to choose from. 

Option one, Whittaker fights the loser of Du Plessis vs Adesanya. Both fighters have major wins over him that he wants to avenge. So, getting a chance to avenge one of his losses and getting a title fight is a best-case scenario. Option two, he fights Strickland in a title eliminator. 

From this, the winner will guarantee themselves a shot at the belt. The only problem with this is Strickland said he’s willing to wait for the title fight. Finally, Whittaker could just wait it out. This is the riskiest option because he could take himself out of the title picture but is less likely to get hurt. It’s a high-risk, high reward.

Either way, Robert Whittaker is in a good situation, and after a performance like this, fans can not wait to see what the former champ does next. 


Rest of the Main Card:


Heavyweight – Alexander Volkov def. Sergei Pavlovich, by unanimous decision

Welterweight – Kelvin Gastelum def. Daniel Rodriguez, by unanimous decision

Middleweight – Shara Magomedov def. Joilton Lutterbach, by TKO at 2:27 in R3

Light Heavyweight – Volkan Oezdemir def. Johnny Walker, by KO at 2:28 in R1




Lightweight – Nasrat Haqparast def. Jared Gordon, by split decision

Featherweight – Felipe Lima def. Muhammad Naimov, by Sub. (rear-naked choke) at 1:15 in R3 

Welterweight – Rinat Fakhretdinov def. Nicolas Dalby, by split decision

Bantamweight –  Muin Gafurov def. Kyung Ho Kang, by unanimous decision

Light Heavyweight – Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def. Brendson Ribeiro, by majority decision

Bantamweight – Changho Lee def. Xiao Long, by split decision


Top Moments of the Night:


  • Xiao Long vs. Changho Lee started the night off with a rare mistake. After the first round ended, the two fighters continued to fight, but no bell had gone off, so the two fought for an extra 10 seconds. After the bell finally went off, round one came to an end.
  • The best story of the night went to Felipe Lima. Down two rounds, Lima went all out to get the finish. He was able to get the takedown, take his opponent’s back, and choke him out. Lima got the comeback win in his UFC debut, where he stepped in on five days’ notice, traveled from Brazil to Saudi Arabia, and fought in another weight class. 
  • Volkan Oezdemir landed a stunning knockout on Johnny Walker. While Walker was ducking, Oezdemir landed an uppercut on Walker, slowly sending him down. Oezdemir threw one more punch for good measure to finish the fight. This became his second fight with a first-round finish.
  • In a weird moment throughout the co-main, in between rounds, Alexander Volkov was getting his hair combed. After the fight, Volkov talked about growing his hair out, and one member of his team’s job was to fix his hair. He didn’t want it getting in his eyes. 
  • Robert Whittaker knocked out Ikram Aliskerov in round one. Whittaker showed why he was one of the all-time greats. Not only did he find a way to end the fight, but he also stayed composed when a few strikes didn’t land. He made short work of Aliskerov and is now looking for an opportunity for the belt.


Check out next week, as UFC 303 will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card is scheduled to start at 7:00 pm PT. Thank you for visiting for your Las Vegas Sports news.


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– Ethan Kugler – Franchise Sports Media

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