The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Moscow as UFC Fight Night 163 takes place this Saturday. Ranked fighters are competing on the main card, so let’s take a look at them and the possible implications their fights could have on the rankings.
In the main event, Zabit Magomedsharipov meets Calvin Kattar in a featherweight bout. Considering it was upgraded to the headliner on short notice, it will be a three-round fight instead of a five-rounder. Magomedsharipov (14-1) remains unbeaten in the UFC and in total, is 5-0 with the promotion. He last competed in March, where he outpointed the tough Jeremy Stephens. As a result, he is ranked as the seventh-best featherweight in the world by Sherdog, the sixth-best by ESPN and is No. 5 in the UFC rankings. The Dagestan native could climb the ranks higher if he makes it six wins in a row, especially with the No. 4 Frankie Edgar coming off a loss.
Kattar (20-3) will be looking to put an end to the streak. The American is on a two-fight winning run and is 4-1 with the promotion overall since making his debut in 2017. He last defeated Ricardo Lamas via TKO at UFC 238 this past summer and also holds victories over the likes of Shane Burgos and Andre Fili. Kattar is currently ranked No. 11 in the UFC rankings and if he can get past Magomedsharipov, it would not only be his biggest win yet, but also see him leapfrog a number of contenders possibly all the way to the top five.
In the co-main event, Alexander Volkov will provide the biggest test of all for Greg Hardy in their heavyweight affair. Volkov (30-7) hasn’t competed since a late knockout loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 229 in October last year. However, “Drago” was previously undefeated in the UFC leading up to that setback with notable finishes over Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum. Because of that, Sherdog and ESPN still rate him as the seventh-best heavyweight in the world while he is also the No. 7 contender in the UFC rankings. It will be interesting to see if he moves up with a win on Saturday considering the level of his opponent. However, he could still potentially leapfrog the No. 6-ranked Alistair Overeem.
As for Hardy (5-1, 1NC), this will undoubtedly be his toughest opponent yet. The former NFL star has so far faced lower-level opposition as he continues to venture into the world of mixed martial arts. Before his recent no contest with Ben Sosoli last month, he had won two in a row via TKO against Dmitry Smolyakov and Juan Adams.
However, Volkov is a 37-fight veteran and if the unranked Hardy is able to get the win, he will not only show that he is ready for the higher-ranked opponents, but also potentially enter the top 10 of the heavyweight rankings in less than eight professional outings.