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If you are like us and watch an absurd amount of mixed martial arts each week, you probably wish there was some sort of rating system so you would not be forced to sit through a boring fight waiting for something to happen. In order to help, we rate the fights on major cards for your convenience. If you happen to miss an event, check back here for ratings so you can pick and choose which bouts to watch and which ones to skip. Fights are ranked on the scale shown below, based on competitiveness, the skill and technique on display, excitement and the story and drama of the contest. Wherever possible, the fights are described without spoiling the outcomes. Here is the MMA Gradebook for UFC Fight Night 163:
The Ultimate Fighting Championship kicked off the card with Tiger Muay Thai’s Popov taking on Grant, who entered the UFC with some hype in 2013 but proceeded to go 1-3 with the company and desperately needed a win to avoid getting cut. It was a decent fight but not a great way to start an early card. The fight was even on the feet with Popov perhaps taking a slight edge, but Grant’s grappling was the difference maker and allowed him to take home a split decision.
A rematch between Kianzad and Clark was the only women’s fight on the card. The two faced off in Invicta Fighting Championship over four years ago, with Clark winning a unanimous decision. This fight ended up going the opposite way. Kianzad dominated on the feet from bell to bell and defended all of Clark’s takedown attempts, which allowed her to take home a rather easy unanimous decision.
A Russian gatekeeper in Yakolev took on the young Roberts, who had compiled an 8-1 record in just three years as a pro. To put that into perspective, Yakolev had been fighting for 15 years, with a 24-8 mark going into the fight.
Nurmagomedov made his highly anticipated UFC debut when he took on Zawada, who was 0-2 in the UFC. This was clearly an attempt by the UFC to get Nurmagomedov an easy win, but the plan backfired. Zawada ended up securing a triangle choke in the first round, netted a submission victory and embarrassed Nurmagomedov in front of his home country.
This fight flew under the radar, but both men were interesting prospects who could make names for themselves with a big win. After an average start to the card, we were treated with a thrilling striking bout that featured an unbelievable comeback as the capper. Kopylov started to turn it on in the third round, and an unfortunate eye poke put Roberson at even more of a disadvantage. However, instead of coasting, he turned up the heat, shot for a takedown and finished Kopylov with a rear-naked choke with under a minute to go.
Khabilov dominated Khandozhko on the ground for all three rounds but did not do much with his top position and grinded out a boring unanimous decision.
After a rough start for Russian fighters, Ankalaev put on a dominant performance and finished the fight with one of the best knockouts of the year. Ankalaev is only 27 years old and already looks like one of the most polished fighters in the division. He called out a Top 15 fighter after the win and will almost certainly get his wish after a performance like this. Keep an eye on Ankalaev, as we may be seeing the rise of a future champion.
The debuting Gamzatov took on Abreu in the main card opener. Abreu earned his “Russian Terror” nickname by taking out multiple Russian fighters in their own country, so this one figured to be interesting. The fight was close, but it provided little in terms of entertainment value.
Martin was so fired up before the fight that the referee had to hold him back during introductions. While some may have thought we were finally going to get a wild fight to liven up the card, we instead got another pedestrian fight that saw Martin run away with a unanimous decision.
After a string of average fights, we were finally gifted with a slightly above-average fight. Jokes aside, Herman and Ibragimov had an exhausting encounter that had its moments but was nothing spectacular. Herman ended up grinding out a unanimous decision and moved to 12-11-1 in the UFC.
With both men desperate for a win, we were bound to get the first good fight of the main card. The fight was close, but Roberts looked to get the fight to the ground while Zelim landed the harder shots. However, as the second round drew to a close, Roberts landed a clean counter left hook that sent Imadaev face first to the canvas and silenced the crowd. Roberts is now 4-4 in the UFC, while Imadaev is 0-2 despite the hype behind him.
Hardy stepped up on short notice to take on his toughest opponent to date in Volkov, who entered the cage on the outskirts of title contention. More was expected out of Volkov in this fight, but he came through with a dominant performance nonetheless. Hardy had his moments, but Volkov was the all-around better fighter and never really found himself in trouble. Because Hardy wields one-punch knockout power, Volkov played it safe and picked him apart from the outside with his long kicks and jab.
This featherweight showdown was originally scheduled as the co-main event but was bumped up at the last minute, resulting in our first three-round headliner in some time. If any fight could have used two more rounds, it was this one. The fight was much closer than the commentators led the public to believe, and Kattar was starting to turn up the heat in the third round. Meanwhile, Magomedsharipov was exhausted. He did just enough to edge out the first two rounds and took home a 29-28 unanimous decision. Magomedsharipov landed a lot of leg kicks, but Kattar’s punches were arguably the more damaging blows, so this one could have gone either way.