What mattered most at UFC on ESPN+ 21 in Moscow? Here are a few post-fight musings …

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1. Zabit Magomedsharipov deserves praise not criticism

For some reason Zabit Magomedsharipov is taking criticism over a perceived cardio issue instead of getting praise for beating Calvin Kattar in a “Fight of the Night” bout that resulted in his 14th consecutive win.

It’s somewhat understandable since Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) called out the winner of the UFC 245 featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway in particular has a style and gas tank that cripples opponents in the later rounds, and Magomedsharipov showed an apparent chink in his armor by fading toward the end of the fight with Kattar.

The Russian said afterward an infection that plagued him pre-fight impacted his training camp and conditioning. I’m inclined to believe him. Magomedsharipov is no fool. He’s got a good team around him, and if he were to get the title shot it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t do everything possible to ensure he’s prepared for 25 minutes.

Would that be enough to beat Holloway or Volkanovski? Maybe, or maybe not. Magomedsharipov is as skilled as they come, though, and he showed the flashes of brilliance in the fight with Kattar that have caused him to be so hyped.

Now it’s on Magomedsharipov to do what MMA fighters are supposed to do: Learn from this one and be better next time, whether it’s for the title or not.

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