The undefeated Kazakh welterweight revealed Saturday night following his win over Stephen Thompson that he torn a major ligament in his ankle six weeks prior to UFC 296. Rakhmonov ultimately defeated Thompson via second-round rear-naked choke, becoming the first man in Thompson’s 13-year MMA career to submit the two-time title challenger.
“I had a very serious injury and I was even close to pulling out from the fight, but I decided to risk it all,” Rakhmonov said through a translator on the UFC post-fight show, “and that’s why I didn’t kick it with my legs, just used my knees. But thanks God, I got the victory.”
Rakhmonov (18-0) continues to push up the ladder of the UFC’s welterweight ranks. The 29-year-old is now a perfect 6-0 in his octagon run with six finishes, stopping the likes of Geoff Neal, Neil Magny, Michel Prazeres, and Alex Oliveira in addition to Thompson. In total, Rakhmonov retains a 100-perecent finishing rate for his entire MMA career, having beaten every man he’s ever faced without once needing assistance from the judges’ scorecards.
After the bout, Rakhmonov called for his chance to compete for the UFC welterweight title.
“Hopefully next time, with God’s willing, I’m going to be 100 percent. But it doesn’t matter,” Rakhmonov said. “Whatever injury [I have], you know I’m going to fight to my last blood, until the last sip of blood, because I have to get a win.”
UFC 296 took place Dec. 16 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
UFC champion welterweight Leon Edwards defeated Colby Covington via unanimous decision to defend his 170-pound strap in the night’s main event.