Since making his UFC debut in 2015, Shamil Abdurakhimov has continued to fight some of the promotion’s biggest names.
After suffering defeat in his debut, Abdurakhimov won five of his next six, including stoppage wins over Marcin Tybura and Chase Sherman, while outpointing former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski on the judges' scorecards in their matchup back in 2018. His only loss during that four-year stretch was to UFC knockout king Derrick Lewis.
In his last three bouts, however, Abdurakhimov has struggled to find those same results, losing all three by TKO before reaching the third round. At surface level, this obviously isn’t the run he or any fighter want to find themselves on. But when you look deeper, his matchups became even more difficult despite the setbacks.
At UFC 242, Shamil challenged No. 4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. One year later he faced No. 11 Chris Daukaus, and then closed out his 2022 campaign early last year after his first-round loss to No. 3 ranked Sergei Pavlovich in March. While falling short in those three matchups, each time he stepped into the Octagon he gained more valuable experience against some of the most elite competition mixed martial arts has to offer.
For the first time in a handful of years, Abdurakhimov won’t be fighting an elite veteran, but will face an up-and-comer in Jailton Almeida, who’s won all his three of his UFC bouts by first-round finish. The two were previously scheduled to meet at UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson, but Visa issues forced Abdurakhimov out of the bout while Almeida fought Anton Turkalj on short notice.
The fight was rescheduled for UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev, but Abdurakhimov withdrew again, this time after suffering a knee injury in training. Despite both cancellations, the fight was scheduled for the third time.
Abdurakhimov travels to Brazil to fight Almeida in his home country at UFC 283: Teixeira vs Hill on January 21 live from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro. After fighting tough competition his whole career, a matchup with a rising star is nothing special.
“Every opponent is interesting for me because each time it is a new challenge but, besides that, I can’t say that this guy is especially interesting for me,” Abdurakhimov said. “The first time I didn’t get a Visa for a fight in US and then I injured my knee but, in general, I don’t give a s**t who [I] fight.”
When asked why he thinks Almeida has found so much success since signing with the UFC on Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2021, Abdurakhimov’s answer was quite simple.
“He is a young, hungry well-rounded fighter,” Abdurakhimov said. “In his previous battles he just was better than his opponents.”
Almeida has flashed onto the scene as one of the heavyweight division’s most interesting prospects. With exceptional grappling and a strong striking pedigree, Almeida has breezed to a 3-0 UFC record, and because of this, Abdurakhimov’s goals for their UFC 283 scrap are quite simple: just get the victory and nothing more.
“I’m in good shape, I feel great and fully focused,” Abdurakhimov said. “It would be awesome if I can start a new win streak now.”
UFC 283: Teixeira vs Hill took place live from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on January 21, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!