4 Best Kazakh UFC Fighters Ranked 2023 (Future Champions)

Are you wondering who the best Kazakh UFC fighters are?

In this article, we’ll list the best Kazakh UFC fighters and go through their backgrounds, credentials, records, skills in the octagon, and who they’ve won and lost against.

Best Kazakh UFC Fighters

There haven’t been many Kazakh UFC fighters since the promotion started in 1993, but they’re finally arriving. Many fans believe Kazakhstan is the new Dagestan of the UFC.

Ranked starting with the most elite, here are the 4 best Kazakh UFC fighters since the Kazakh influx began.

1. Shavkat Rakhmonov – ‘Nomad’ (18-0)

Height: 6’1” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Welterweight | DOB: Oct 23, 1994 | Fighting Style: Kickboxing

Shavkat Rakhmonov, also known as Nomad, is an undefeated mixed martial artist and former M1 welterweight champion.

He’s a Master of Sport in MMA and Combat Sambo, and since joining the UFC in 2020, he’s been nothing short of spectacular. He’s very proud of his Kazakh heritage, often wearing a traditional Kazakh headdress during his walkout.

So far in the UFC, Shavkat Rakhmonov has shown the following skills:

  • Killer finishing instincts – he’s finished all 18 of his MMA fights and has only been to a third round twice
  • He’s extremely well-rounded and highly polished in all facets of MMA, without any evident weaknesses
  • Doesn’t rush to finish but also doesn’t hesitate to kill when his opponent makes a mistake or an opening presents
  • He’s extremely calculated, composed, and unemotional when fighting, which allows him to be very adaptable during a fight
  • Powerful, accurate, and slick striking – especially his boxings
  • Brilliant straight right feint and roundhouse head kick, as well as very speedy and accurate knees to the body
  • 100% takedown defense in 5 UFC fights – this allows Shavkat to dictate the fight
  • Excellent takedowns and top control where he executes sneaky submissions – he has 9 submissions in 17 wins
  • His height and long reach for a welterweight allow him to maintain distance and utilize his striking skills effectively

Shavkat Rakhmonov’s best wins have been against Neil Magny, Alex Oliveira, Michel Prazeres, Carlston Harris, and Geoff Neal. He also beat Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson, becoming the first fighter to submit him.

With his talent and composure, it won’t be long before Shavkat is competing for gold in the UFC welterweight division.

As DC said at UFC 285, “he doesn’t talk, this guy just shows up and beats you”. His walk-off and standing rear-naked choke finish of Geoff Neal was Jon Jones vs. Machida-esque.

2. Damir Ismagulov – ‘Qazaq’ (24-3)

Height: 5’10” | Reach: 74” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Lightweight | DOB: Feb 03, 1991 | Fighting Style: Kickboxing

Born in Russia but Kazakh by ethnicity, Damir Ismagulov is a former M-1 Global lightweight champion.

His martial arts training didn’t start until he attended University, where he went on to achieve a master of sports in army hand-to-hand combat.

He then started amateur MMA at 20 years old in 2011, going on to win the 2014 Russian Cup and achieving a master of sports in MMA as a result.

His professional MMA career began in 2014 and he competed in various Russian promotions, most notably M-1 Global where he won the title.

In 2018, Damir Ismagulov joined the UFC and has shown the following skills in the octagon:

  • Great striking defense as he has nonstop head movement and rolling of punches – always keeping his head at angles
  • Technical striking with great balance – he never leads over his lead leg too often
  • Brilliant sharp jab with heavy damage – his lead shoulder is always moving to hide it: up, down, forward, backward
  • Jabs to the body to bring his opponent’s guard down for overhand rights
  • Mixes striking and wrestling very well
  • Great vision and evasion with in-and-out movement – he moves just out of the way and then is right back in the opponent’s space
  • Effective lead left hook when countering on the back foot

Damir’s best UFC wins have been against Joel Alvarez, Thiago Moises, and Guram Kutateladze – 3 high-level fighters.

After briefly retiring following his first UFC loss to Arman Tsarukyan, Damir returned and lost another decision against Grant Dawson. 

Strangely, with a very respectable 5-2 UFC record, Damir Ismagulov was cut by the UFC.

3. Asu Almabaev – ‘Zulfikhar’ (18-2)

Height: 5’4” | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Flyweight | DOB: Jan 25, 1994 | Fighting Style: Submission Wrestling

Born in Zhanatas, Kazakhstan, Asu Almabaev is the former M-1 interim flyweight champion and NFC flyweight champion who also competed in Brace CF and AMC Fight Nights Global.

Asu’s martial arts journey began in wrestling, before moving on to jiu-jitsu, hand-to-hand combat, boxing, and karate. He’s now a Master of Sports of International Class in Jiu-Jitsu.

Currently riding a 14-fighting win streak, Almabaev joined the UFC in 2023 and has shown the following skills so far in his career:

  • Back mount and rear-naked choke specialist – 6/9 submissions
  • Heavy top control and dominance on the ground
  • He’s happy to stay in full guard as he has good submission defense, good elbow placement, and generates a lot of power with his punches
  • Powerful overhand rights which he also uses to transition to takedowns
  • Strong body locks and trips
  • Excellent spinning wheel/back kicks
  • Speedy double and single-leg takedowns

On his UFC debut, Asu beat Ode Osbourne and looks like a future star. He said himself, “By 2025, I will be the flyweight champion of the world”.

As his UFC career continues, his skills and credentials will be updated to reflect his development.

4. Azat Maksum – ‘Kazakh’ (17-1)

Height: 5’7” | Reach: 70” | Stance: Southpaw | Weight Class: Flyweight | DOB: May 7, 1995 | Fighting Style: Wrestling

Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Azat Maksum is the former Octagon League flyweight champion (the biggest MMA promotion in Kazakhstan). 

He started wrestling in his early teens and transitioned to MMA at the age of 18 while at University. He’s competed in Brace CF, Octagon League, various smaller promotions, and the UFC since 2023. 

Since joining, he’s begun training at Elevation Fight Team in Denver, Colorado, with the likes of Cory Sandhagen. He’s formerly trained at Khabib’s gym in Dagestan, in preparation for fights.

In his career so far, Azat Maksum has shown the following skills:

  • Long-reach and excellent distance management
  • Great range-finding jab before moving side to side and feinting to land his powerful right cross
  • Excellent timing with takedowns, especially if opponents are too offensive
  • Clean striking fundamentals and very patient fighting
  • Excellent striking defense with speed, footwork, and constant stance switches – the stance switches change the range every time
  • Great feints to hide his offense with in-and-out, bouncing movement, shoulder fakes, and rarely being flat-footed
  • Effective southpaw roundhouse kick to the body, knees up the middle (jumping, standing, step-in), and knee and straight punch combinations

So far in the UFC, Azat’s beaten the highly experienced Tyson Nam in a very close call. Being one of the best Kazakh UFC fighters with heaps of potential, Azat will likely be given tough upcoming fights to really test him.

The Bottom Line

So, ‘who are the best UFC fighters from Kazakhstan?’

So far, the best Kazakh UFC fighters are Shavkat Rakhmonov, Damir Ismagulov, Asu Almabaev, and Azat Maksum – 4 highly skilled fighters with Shavkat being the clear standout.

Very noticeable about these 4 Kazakh UFC fighters is how they’re all so well-rounded. They have brilliant wrestling, striking, and jiu-jitsu as they understand these are the most important arts in MMA.

Prior to these beasts, Kazakhstan was represented by Zhalgas Zhumagulov, a decent fighter who struggled in the UFC to a 1-6 record.

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