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WelterweightsNR | Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0, 1-0 UFC) vs. NR | Michel Prazeres (26-3, 10-3 UFC)
ODDS: Rakhmonov (-270), Prazeres (+230)
The situation suddenly went south for Prazeres. A fireplug of a lightweight grinder, the Brazilian nearly washed out of the UFC near the beginning of his career with the promotion but quietly put together an eight-fight winning streak that mostly went under the radar. The fights were not that pretty and the UFC almost always buried “Trator” on the prelims, but Prazeres had learned just enough striking to round out his game and put together a well-rounded approach as a result, even scoring a 2016 win over Gilbert Burns. Issues on the scale eventually forced Prazeres to move to welterweight, but he continued to succeed, at least until his February 2019 bout against Ismail Naurdiev. The relatively raw and unheralded Naurdiev figured to provide another clean win for Prazeres, but he instead basically shut down every part of the Brazilian’s game. Naurdiev stayed on his feet and picked off Prazeres to hand him his first loss in over four years. A few weeks later, Prazeres failed an out-of-competition drug test and has been held out of action in the two years since, returning here against Rakhmonov. Kazakhstan’s Rakhmonov had a high strength of schedule leading into his UFC debut in October, but “Nomad” still impressed in the Octagon against Alex Oliveira, matching his physicality and scoring a submission within the first round. His approach could serve to be a bit more mindful—many of Rakhmonov’s prior fights saw him survive trouble or get controlled before turning things around—but between his physical tools and youth, he should at the very least be able to replicate the success Naurdiev had against Prazeres, particularly since the Brazilian is now 39 years old and coming off of a long layoff. Prazeres could have his moments, but the pick is Rakhmonov via decision.
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