Damir Ismagulov found himself in an intense, closely fought striking battle with Guram Kutateladze tonight at UFC On ESPN 37, but eventually emerged with a majority decision victory.
Kutateladze with a couple of solid combos to start, throwing punches followed by a kick each time.
Ismagulov a little more cagey with his opening work, feeling out with the jab. Another couple of punches and a kick from Kutateladze. Ismagulov with a jab. Kutateladze already has a little cut to the nose.
Every combo from Kutateladze being punctuated by a kick at the end of it. Ismagulov continues to work behind the jab and seems to be wincing his right eye at times as if it’s bothering him.
Kutateladze cliches up and they jockey for position. Against the cage Kutateladze looks to land a knee upstairs. Now he’s wading in with big elbows and has Ismagulov troubled.
Kutateladze with a foot sweep now and tries to get on top, but Ismagulov looks to turn this advantage, though the action then goes back to the feet.
Kutateladze again threatening with punches close to the cage. Now he’s trying for head kicks that are just whistling over Ismagulov’s head. Intense first round!
Jab for ismagulov. Leg kick for Kutateladze. Body kick from Ismagulov. He tries to land a hook off the back foot. Now a body kick again.
Back to the jab for Ismagulov. Body kick from Kutateladze. Missed hooks from Ismagulov. Ismagulov ducks a punch and rips to the body.
Kutateladze just comes up short with a head kick. He lands a leg kick. Ismagulov just out of range with a couple of loaded up right hands.
A couple of left hands start to sneak through from Ismagulov. Kutateladze tries to drive in for a takedown, but ismagulov turns him into the cage and they soon break free from the clinch.
Right hand lands for Ismagulov. Kutateladze comes forward and Ismagulov lands a couple of punches.
Kutateladze tries for a takedown again off a combo, but Ismagulov stuffs it. He resets and attempts another one soon afterwards, but again it doesn’t pay off.
Missed front kick upstairs from Kutateladze. Right hand lands for him though. Jabs for Ismagulov. Solid body kick from Kutateladze.
Hook kick attempt from Kutateladze. Jabs continuing to pepper Kutateladze’s face and he’s getting more reddened and bloodied from that.
Body kick for Kutateladze. One-two for Ismagulov and then misses with a hook off the back foot. The fight continues to be fought at a high tempo as the second round ends.
Ismagulov right back to those solid jabs, while Kutateladze lands a couple of leg kicks.
Good one-two for Ismagulov and more punches behind it. Another leg kick from Kutateladze. Jab from Ismagulov.
Jumping knee from Kutateladze misses and Ismagulov tries for a takedown off of that, but Kutateladze does well to stuff it.
Back to striking range and ismagulov works the jab and then rips to the body. Kutateladze responds with a leg kick.
Nice one-two for Ismagulov. Leg kick and a punch behind it from Kutateladze. Jab for Ismagulov, kick from Kutateladze. They both land a punch at almost the same time.
Ismagulov with an improvised superman punch and then they go into the clinch. Kutateladze lands an elbow as they break apart.
Ismagulov looking for punches as Kutateladze misses with a spinning back kick. Body kick from Kutateladze.
Hard right hand in close from Ismagulov. Kutateladze tries for a flurry of punches that comes off the guard.
Head kick attempt from Kutateladze. Glancing hook from Ismagulov and a brief clinch. Kick for Kutateladze. He tries for takedown, but Ismagulov shrugs it off.
Ismagulov going for a single-leg and looks like he’s got it, but then Ismagulov manages to work on top as they hit the mat. Ismagulov trying to stand and Kutateladze lands a knee. It looks like it hit the chest, but the ref thinks it went illegally to the head while his opponent was grounded, which forces a brief stoppage.
Kutateladze is warned, but doesn’t lose a point, which is just as well since replays suggest it wasn’t a knee to the head.
Only a few seconds remaining. Ismagulov lands a nice punch before the final horn sounds.
A tough fight to score then after a high-level, technical battle on the feet. In fact, one judge can’t separate between them, scoring it even (28-28), but the other two see it in Ismagulov’s favor (29-28, 30-27), likely finding value in his quality jab that was landing all fight long and bloodied up his opponent’s face, and so he wins by a majority decision verdict.