Askar Askarov made a strong statement when it comes to his standing in the flyweight title picture with his win at UFC Fight Island 2.
The undefeated Russian kept his record perfect with a unanimous decision victory over Alexandre Pantoja in a war of attrition that kicked off the main card on Saturday night. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Askarov, who moves to 2-0-1 in the UFC.
The difference was ultimately a tenacious offensive onslaught from Askarov as he constantly came after Pantoja with a grappling heavy attack from the first moment of the fight until the last.
While Askarov was looking for the takedowns, Pantoja was quick to throw up a barrage of submission attempts in the opening round to make him pay for it. From a guillotine choke in the opening exchange to an armbar and eventually a heel hook attempt, Pantoja was attacking any opening that Askarov gave him.
After some wild scrambles, Pantoja eventually found his way to Askarov’s back while trying to wrap up a rear naked choke. Askarov survived and refused to give up on his wrestling as he continued to go after the takedowns throughout the fight.
Time and time again, Askarov would find a way to get inside as he sought to drag the action down to the mat as he started putting Pantoja on defense in the second and third rounds.
Late in the fight with both fighters starting to show signs of exhaustion, Pantoja and Askarov were willing to trade strikes on the feet. Askarov showed the crisper boxing with a few stiff shots landed as he continued throwing hands with Pantoja until the final bell.
While the fight was certainly close, Askarov got the nod by unanimous decision and with that win he makes a strong statement when it comes to his spot as the next flyweight in line for a potential title shot.