Friday, November 19th, Russian heavyweight prospect Mukhamad Vakhaev will be in action for Absolute Championship Akhmat, where he will be looking continue his winning ways against Tony Johnson Jr.. He will be looking for another win, as Vakhaev looks to defend his ACA Heavyweight Championship. He represents Berkut FC, a respectable camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Submission Wrestling: Vakhaev does his best work when he’s in close, whether it’s the clinch or on top when on the ground. He has good takedown ability, though he could set those up better sometimes. In the clinch, he’s very strong and is good at landing short shots. Once he gets a fighter to the mat, he’s relentless. He is a blanket on top and rarely lets his opponent off their back. He also has strong submission ability, though he has only finished a couple fights by submission (usually the rear-naked choke).
Ground-and-Pound: Vakhaev also has brutal ground-and-pound and it’s the reason for many of his finishes. Vakhaev generates sickening amounts of power from top position and does damage very quickly. He’s even scored a tap to strikes in one of his recent bouts against Denis Goltsov, a top performer for PFL. Having that ground striking, in addition to his submissions, is beyond valuable.
Wild Striking Exchanges/Hittable: Vakhaev is definitely not a bad striker by any stretch of the imagination. However, he can get caught up in wild striking exchanges and can be very hittable. He will bite down on his mouthpiece and engage in dog fights with fellow heavyweights, and when heavyweights do that, all they need to do is land one. When he does this, also, he does several things that put him in danger. He plants his feet and doesn’t return his hands to his guard. He also leaves his chin and on center. That could leave him open to a big shot that puts him down. He needs to be a little more defensive when upright.
UFC Midcarder: All four of Vakhaev’s losses came in his first six fights, and if you look at the names that beat him, they are all legit. The biggest three are UFC vet Dmitriy Sosnovskiy and top prospects Kazbek Saidaliev and Salimgerey Rasulov. That last loss came in 2015. Since then, Vakhaev has smashed his way through the Russian regional scene to become one of the best heavyweight prospects outside the UFC. He has wins over UFC veterans Raphael Pessoa and Tanner Boser. He has wins over three of the best heavyweight prospects in the world in Denis Goltsov, Evgeny Goncharov and Sergey Belostenniy. That’s a top-notch resume. Those are guys that have higher level skills than some guys on the UFC roster. That considered, it’s obvious Vakhaev could hang in the UFC and win a number of fights. He should get that shot should he beat another UFC ready heavyweight in Tony Johnson Jr.