For the majority of five rounds, Abdouraguimov (16-1), typically a welterweight, struggled with the strength of the much larger Rafal Haratyk (16-5-1) – until an absolute kneebar attempt from the bottom ended the bout at 4:35 of Round 5.
The finish sent the Dome de Paris into a frenzy, as spectators tried to wrap their heads around what had just occurred. Abdouraguimov is now a double champion for the leading French mixed martial arts promotion.
Already the ARES welterweight champion, Abdouraguimov was deemed by many as UFC-ready after a successful June title defense. But when the UFC call still didn’t come, Abdouraguimov decided to elevate to middleweight.
The decision looked miscalculated for much of the bout, as Haratyk muscled his way out of many of Abdouraguimov’s unusual tricks and traps. Mounted on multiple occasions, Abdouraguimov appeared tired in the championship rounds. However, he found a second wind in Round 5, with multiple submission attempts.
A fifth-round guillotine choke appeared to be his final (and best, up until that moment) chance of the fight. But after Haratyk popped his head out and eventually landed on top, Abdouraguimov’s chances to win seemed slim.
As Haratyk leaned against the cage, Abdouraguimov pulled for a leg submission, an attack he tried multiple times in the fight. This time was different, however. This time, he got what he sought.
The win Friday certainly lived up to Abdouraguimov’s pre-fight prediction in an interview with MMA Junkie.
“Even in my fights, I don’t know how it’s going to be finished,” Abdouraguimov said. “I, myself, in one of my last fights, was surprised I hit an inverted triangle choke. I had never done it in my life. I’m very creative and you can expect the unexpected. I’ll put on a ‘Lazy King’ show.”
Abdouraguimov, 27, extends his winning streak to six with victories over notable veterans Godofredo Pepy and Karl Amoussou among others.