Julian Marquez returns after 28 months out to take on Saparbeg Safarov at middleweight with both men looking to get back into the win column. Which man will claim their second UFC victory?
Julian Marquez (7-2) takes to the Octagon this weekend for his first fight in 28 months due to tearing his latissimus dorsi on his right side. He sustained the injury in his last bout – a split decision loss to Alessio Di Chirico at The Ultimate Fighter 27 finale in July 2018.
Marquez won his UFC contract on the first series of Dana White’s Contender Series and is 1-1 in the promotion; he had won his previous five fights before the Di Chirico loss. His UFC debut was the Fight of the Night in December 2017 when he beat Darren Stewart by submission due to a guillotine choke in round two.
All of Marquez’s career wins have been finishes (six KO/TKO, one submission) and “The Cuban Missile Crisis” has only ever tasted defeat via the judges’ scorecards. After such a long layoff, Marquez wants to stay active and get started with a victory – he will have to overcome a six-inch reach disadvantage against Safarov in order to do so.
Saparbeg Safarov (9-3) was 8-0 when making his UFC debut in December 2016 but has gone 1-3 since. The Russian’s sole UFC victory is the only fight of his career that has gone to decision – he has six KO/TKO wins and two submission wins (seven of which have come in the first round) while his losses have been due to a TKO and two first-round submissions.
Safarov’s last fight was his debut at middleweight, having previously competed at light heavyweight, against Rodolfo Vieira at UFC 248 which he lost by submission due to an arm-triangle choke in round one. Safarov has a background in freestyle wrestling and sambo, and may choose to grapple if he finds he is being beaten on the feet this weekend.
Both competitors will see this fight as an opportunity to kick-start their careers and make a statement as they find themselves in their highest position on a UFC card to date.
Prediction: Marquez by KO/TKO
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