Prospect in the Spotlight (July 26-27): Movlid Khaibulaev

Introduction

Thursday, July 25th, Russian featherweight prospect Movlid Khaibulaev will be in action for PFL, where he will be looking to earn a win over fellow prospect Andre Harrison. He will be looking to score yet another win, as Khaibulaev looks to secure a top spot in the playoffs and position himself for the $1 million first prize. He represents Fight Nights Team and Eagles MMA Academy, a couple of the most respected camps in Russia. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Well-Rounded: Most high–level MMA fighters are pretty well-rounded and competent in all areas of the fight game. With Movlid, he’s actually pretty damn good at every part of the game, not just competent. His most obvious strength from the perspective of the casual MMA fan is his striking, as seen in his brief time with the PFL. He’s a very powerful guy with diverse repertoire. Yes, he has that famous flying knee KO in PFL, but he also kneed the melon off of Vladimir Egoyan in Russia. He has power in his fists and kicks too, as either a way to end the fight or to set up his powerful takedowns. Like most Dagestanis, Movlid is a very good wrestler with a variety of takedowns, trips, throws, etc. When he gets opponents down, they must pick their poison. Do they wish to get their head pounded to oblivion or get tapped? There’s really no preferable way to scrap with this guy.

Strength of Schedule: There are a lot–and I mean a lot–of undefeated MMA fighters that have accumulated padded records and crushed cans on their way to major league MMA promotions. Not only has Movlid fought for reputable MMA promotions in building up his stock, but he has actually defeated some very good talent from the onset of his MMA journey. His third ever pro fight, he beat another top prospect in Abdul Rakhman Dudaev, who was 10-1 at the time. Since then, he has rarely fought anybody that wasn’t either respected, experienced or both. His decision victory over Herbert Burns in ONE Championship is what really caught my eye because not only is Burns a recognizable name, he’s a world renowned BJJ black belt. With that type of buildup in his career, it’s no wonder why this guy is on a trajectory to challenge some of the best in the world.

Needs Improvement

Size: It’s hard to find a weakness in Movlid’s game, but one thing that sticks out to me is the fact he’s just 5’6″. Size does matter a bit in MMA or else, why would there be weight classes and guys cutting ridiculous amounts of weight to get to those thresholds? Movlid’s height and length require him to have to get in on the inside of opponents, which can open him up to shots. For fighters who have a big reach advantage or superior wrestling, Movlid could find himself struggling in those fights. He’s not overly muscular either, though one could argue he’s still a powerful man without the Todd Duffee beach body. If this is the only weakness I can find in Movlid, he’s in good shape overall. However, if it’s possible, a drop in weight class could be in order.

Outlook

UFC Contender: In taking everything into account, it’s really hard not to see Movlid as a guy that would be a contender in the UFC. He’s an absolute killer, has skills everywhere and is a very smart fighter. I was very high on Movlid coming into this season of PFL and ranked him amongst the favorites to win the tournament. At the same time, I don’t want to overrate him just because he landed a KO of the Year candidate on Damon Jackson in his PFL debut. However, from everything I have seen from this guy, including the shucking of the bright lights of a top-notch American MMA broadcast, I can definitely see Movlid working his way into the UFC after this tournament and being an immediate threat in the division.

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