Did Shavkat Rakhmonov suffer ankle injury prior to defeating Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC 296?

Shavkat Rakhmonov, the undefeated welterweight from Kazhakstan, made easy work of Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at the UFC 296. Rakhmonov finished Thompson with a second-round rear naked choke and immediately called for a title shot.

Leon Edwards, who defended the welterweight title in the main event of UFC 296, was not so eager to give Belal Muhammad the next title shot. UFC CEO Dana White was also noncommittal regarding the matter and thus Rakhmonov has the chance to contend for the title next.

Did Shavkat Rakhmonov injury his ankle prior to Stephen Thompson bout?

Laura Sanko, the UFC analyst and commentator, interviewed Shavkat Rakhmonov backstage with MMA manager Sayat Abdrakhmanov of Ruby Sports & Entertainment as the translator. In the interview, Sanko confirmed the information she received from Henri Hooft, head coach of Rakhmonov at Kill Cliff MMA.

“Rakhmonov revealed to me he tore his ankle 6 weeks ago and was considering pulling from the fight. He was unable to kick and had to adjust his strategy as a result,” tweeted Sanko on her X, formerly Twitter. Rakhmonov was also injured going into the Geoff Neal fight which he won by submission in the third round.

In the interview, Sanko asked about an ankle injury that Rakhmonov suffered six weeks before the fight. Hooft had earlier revealed to Sanko that Rakhmonov tore his ligaments and that was the reason why he needed ankle braces.

Rakhmonov would now require surgery on the ankle and that may hinder his return a little longer. That would put Belal Muhammad as the fighter with the most chance to get a crack at the welterweight title next. Muhammad weighed in as the backup fighter for the title fight and is on a long unbeaten streak, only behind Leon Edwards.

Shavkat Rakhmonov next in line to face Leon Edwards?

With an undefeated record in 18 professional bouts, including 6 in the UFC, Shavkat Rakhmonov has positioned himself for title contention in the welterweight division. With 10 submissions and 8 KO/TKOs on his resume, the Kazakh fighter is a fan favorite and notably received no boos at UFC 296.

Rakhmonov had already called for a title shot next on his interview with Joe Rogan inside the octagon. He had further stated his title aspirations in his subsequent interviews as well. Edwards does not seem keen on giving the next title shot to Muhammad. This would make Rakhmonov possibly next in line for the shot.

Only Muhammad and Rakhmonov are on winning streaks in the top 5 of the rankings. Moreover, Edwards has a history with Muhammad as their bout during the pandemic ended in a No Contest after an inadvertent eye poke from Edwards. In the post-fight press conference, Rakhmonov has already made it clear that he will be willing to wait for a title shot.

Rakhmonov has stated in the interview with Sanko that he is willing to fight through injury which would make a quick turnaround for Rakhmonov and Edwards possible for early 2024. However, if he undergoes surgery, Muhammad will surely get the title shot.

Do you think Shavkat Rakhmonov will get the next title shot? Leave your thoughts below!


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