Tuesday, July 23, 2024

UFC Fight Night results, highlights: ‘Boogeyman’ Robert Whittaker knocks out Ikram Aliskerov in Round 1

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If Robert Whittaker was auditioning for a UFC middleweight title fight on Saturday, he might have nabbed the role. Whittaker’s scheduled title eliminator against Khamzat Chimaev fell through but he made a statement nonetheless against short-notice replacement Ikram Aliskerov at UFC Fight Night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“I told everyone, I’m the boogeyman,” Whittaker said in his main event post-fight interview on Saturday. “I’m the best in the world and I’m the most dangerous for everyone in this division.”

Former UFC middleweight champion Whitaker made the most of a high-risk, low-reward opportunity after Chimaev withdrew from their title eliminator. Unranked 185-pound prospect Aliserkov, a well-rounded fighter with serious KO power, replaced Chimaev but presented a stylistically different challenge. It did not matter. 

Whittaker lunged towards Aliskerov with a jab-cross combination that rocked the Dagestani fighter. Whittaker uncorked his signature head kick but a series of uppercuts got the job done. The referee intervened at the 1:49 mark of Round 1.

Whittaker is well positioned for a title shot even if Saturday’s headliner was no longer a title eliminator. Whittaker is currently ranked No. 3 in the UFC’s official middleweight rankings and won far more dynamically than Sean Strickland (No. 2) did against Paulo Costa at UFC 302.

Whitaker improved to 26-7 and should keep an eye on the only two people to beat him in the last decade, reigning middleweight champ Dricus du Plessis and former two-time titleholder Israel Adesanya. Du Plessis vs. Adesanya will headline UFC 305 in Perth, Australia on Aug. 18.

Aliserkov (15-2) snapped a seven-fight winning streak after saving the Saudi Arabia card. Aliskerov was preparing to fight UFC newcomer Antonio Trocoli before agreeing to fly from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia to face a former champion.

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