Rinat Fakhretdinov spoke before her fight about her wrestling skills and the difference in her fight with Kevin Lee.
Wrestling was never a factor in the fight, although it took less than a minute for Fakhretdinov to get rid of Lee on Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas at UFC Vegas 76. usually don’t get to 20-1 in MMA. without having a series of weapons to use in competition.
Just 35 seconds into the fight, Fakhretdinov landed a punch that failed. But he followed that up with a blistering right hand that was right on the money and immediately dropped Lee.
Lee, making his first UFC appearance in 22 months, was essentially done after taking the right. He fell against the cage and was unable to move. Fakhretdinov quickly knocked on a guillotine and choked Lee unconscious.
It was a technical submission because referee Herb Dean stopped it at 55 seconds when he noticed Lee had fallen asleep via the choke.
It was a very impressive win for a guy who established himself as a contender in the crowded welterweight division.
“You have to remember that we are the new generation,” Fakhretdinov said in the Octagon after his win. “We are the best fighters here. I have nothing but respect for Kevin Lee. He’s a great fighter. I specifically studied it. I watched his tapes. I made sure to find out about him. i watched this [Gregor] Gillespie knockout [Lee scored on Nov. 2, 2019, in New York] day after day. I had his picture there that I looked at all the time.
It was a significant victory for Fakhretdinov, who beat a quality version of Lee. Lee was entering his second stint in the UFC after being cut following a loss to Daniel Rodriguez in 2021 and fighting once – a decision over Diego Sanchez at Eagle FC 46 on March 11, 2022 – before re-signing with the UFC earlier this year.
Lee said all the right things before the fight and looked in incredible physical condition, but the fight was over before he could even start.
Lee’s record fell to 19-8 and the loss was his third in his last four outings. This time, however, it wasn’t a mistake Lee made that cost him; rather it was a perfect right hand from Fakhretdinov, then a brutally tight guillotine.
Lee was out almost as soon as Fakhretdinov tightened the choke, but it took Dean a while to determine that Lee was out.
Fakhretdinov is now 3-0 in the UFC and has won 17 by submission. He’s not ranked yet, but that day shouldn’t take long given his performance since joining the UFC.
He’s an extremely well-rounded fighter, as Lee found out.
“I can punch and I can wrestle; it all depends on our game plan and what my coach says,” Fakhretdinov said. “If I have to be ready to fight, I will fight. If I have to knock someone out, that’s what I’ll do.
“The plan was to make him work; to take him into deep water on the first lap and try to hold him back, wear him out. That’s what we thought was going to happen and then finish it before the end of the second round.
Instead, he finished his best opponent in 60 seconds. He’s going to be a factor in the division before long if he keeps hitting with this precision, sharpness and power.