Nurmagomedov student, Tagir Ulanbekov, RNCs opponent at UFC 296

In a commanding display of skill, Tagir Ulanbekov, a student of the late Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov and mentored by Khabib, secured his second consecutive submission win by defeating Cody Durden at UFC 296. The flyweight bout served as the closer for the early prelims at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Both fighters entered the contest on the back of recent victories, with Durden boasting a four-fight win streak since his 2022 loss to Muhammad Mokaev. Ulanbekov, coming off a submission triumph in his last outing, showcased his prowess in the highly competitive flyweight division.

The fight kicked off with a flurry of heavy low kicks from both contenders, setting the tone for a high-paced encounter. Ulanbekov’s striking combinations began to find success, culminating in a powerful right hand that dropped Durden. Seizing the opportunity, Ulanbekov attempted a guillotine, but Durden displayed resilience, escaping the submission and returning to his feet.

As the first round progressed, Ulanbekov continued to dominate, securing a crucial takedown and showcasing ground-and-pound. Durden defended well but found himself on the defensive as Ulanbekov transitioned to his back, applying a body triangle and putting pressure on his opponent.

The horn sounded, saving Durden from further damage at the end of the round.

In the second round, Durden aimed to rebound, landing a solid right hand that briefly forced Ulanbekov to retreat. However, the Russian fighter quickly regained control, executing another takedown. Despite Durden’s efforts to stay active on the ground, Ulanbekov relentlessly pursued the submission.

Transitioning to Durden’s back, Ulanbekov secured a body triangle once again, gradually tightening the choke. Despite the American’s resilience, Ulanbekov’s pressure became too much to handle. With seconds remaining in the round, Durden succumbed to the rear-naked choke, resulting in a tap.

The official result declared Ulanbekov the victor by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:25 in the second round. Ulanbekov’s dominant performance underscores his growing presence in the flyweight division, making him a force to be reckoned with in the UFC’s 125-pound weight class.