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Guram Kutateladze paid no mind to the pundits.
The Allstars Training Center export leaned on sensational grappling defense and a hyperactive kicking game in a stellar Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, as he walked away with a split decision over former two-division KSW titleholder Mateusz Gamrot in the featured UFC Fight Night 180 lightweight prelim on Saturday at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Darryl Ransom and Victor Wolf for Kutateladze, David Lethaby for the favored Gamrot.
A short-notice substitution for Magomed Mustafaev, Kutateladze (12-2, 1-0 UFC) chipped away with kicks to the body, legs and head, sat down his Polish adversary with an overhand left in the second round and withstood a late surge from the American Top Team representative in the third. Gamrot (17-1, 0-1 UFC) struggled to find a foothold throughout, but he landed a front kick to the face in the waning moments before executing a duck-under takedown. Kutateladze, however, was wise to his efforts, chewed up the remaining time and exited the cage with his hand raised.
Kutateladze, 28, will carry a nine-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Dominant Robertson Stifles Botelho
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26 alum Gillian Robertson overcame a slow start to earn a clear-cut unanimous decision over Poliana Botelho in a three-round women’s flyweight confrontation. All three judges sided with Robertson (9-4, 6-2 UFC): 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27.
Botelho (8-3, 3-2 UFC) kept the Canadian at bay with jabs and leg kicks, but most importantly, she managed to stay upright for much of the first round. That narrative soon changed. Robertson refused to be denied and delivered takedowns in the second and third rounds, where she operated from three-quarter mount and full mount while piling up points with hammerfists, short punches and elbows from the top. Botelho’s situation grew more and more desperate as time ticked away and fatigue took hold. Robertson rendered her attempts to bridge and scramble from the bottom futile, clearing her latest hurdle with room to spare.
The 25-year-old Robertson has recorded four victories in her last five appearances.
Park Drowns Overmatched Phillips
Repeated takedowns, suffocating top control and steady ground-and-pound carried Korean Top Team’s Jun Yong Park to a lopsided unanimous decision over former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion John Phillips in a three-round middleweight encounter. Park (12-4, 2-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with matching 30-25 marks from all three judges.
Phillips (22-11, 1-5 UFC) offered nothing in terms of substantive resistance. Park executed takedowns with ease, floated to advantageous positions, fished for chokes and battered the impotent SBG Ireland rep with volleys of punches and elbows. Phillips managed to open a cut near the South Korean’s left eye with an elbow strike from the bottom in the second round but was otherwise a complete non-factor across 15 forgettable minutes.
Park, 29, has won nine of his past 10 bouts.
Determined Ziam Outlasts Mullarkey
Bulgarian Top Team product Fares Ziam won for the sixth time in seven outings, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Jamie Mullarkey in a three-round battle at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards for Ziam (11-3, 1-1 UFC).
Mullarkey (12-4, 0-2 UFC) executed takedowns in all three rounds but failed to consolidate his advantages with positional control or meaningful ground-and-pound. Ziam used his superior craft, length and skill during their standup exchanges, offsetting his counterpart’s efforts in the clinch and on the floor. Mullarkey had his chances in Round 3, but exhaustion and his defiant opponent’s refusal to break under pressure left him at a deficit in the eyes of the judges.
The victory was Ziam’s first since February 2019.
Grishin Stops Reeling Atigulov
Maxim Grishin rebounded from a July 11 loss to Marcin Tybura, as he took care of onetime Absolute Championship Berkut titlist Gadzhimurad Antigulov with punches in the second round of their light heavyweight tilt. Grishin (31-8-2, 1-1 UFC) brought it to a close 4:58 into Round 2.
Antigulov (20-8, 2-4 UFC) corralled his former American Top Team stablemate in the clinch for much of the first round—he scored with shoulder strikes, knees and foot stomps—and executed a takedown early in the second. However, Grishin rode the momentum into a reversal, returned to his feet and countered an ill-advised attempt at a guillotine by shedding the choke and moving to full mount. From there, he punished Antigulov with elbows and punches. The two men ultimately shifted to a standing position, at which point Grishin pinned his fellow Russian to the fence, uncorked a powerful right hook to the head and flurried with follow-up punches to force a standing stoppage.
Once a promising addition to the 205-pound weight class, Antigulov now finds himself on a four-fight losing streak.
Nurmagomedov Annihilates Newcomer Striegl
Akhmat Fight Team’s Said Nurmagomedov put away former Universal Reality Combat Championship titleholder Mark Striegl with punches in the first round of their bantamweight pairing. Striegl (18-3, 0-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 51 seconds into Round 1, suffering his first setback in nearly five years.
Nurmagomedov (14-2, 3-1 UFC) caught the One Championship veteran moving forward, clipped him behind the ear with a counter left hook and answered a desperate single-leg takedown attempt with punches to the side of the head. A dazed and confused Striegl collapsed backward, failed to defend himself and paid a steep price. Nurmagomedov continued to fire punches, moved to a dominant position and let his fists do the rest.
The 28-year-old Nurmagomedov has rattled off eight wins across his last nine appearances.