Ali Taleb’s journey into MMA began with training in grappling and jiu-jitsu, and he turned pro after a 5-3 run on the amateur circuit. Taleb has yet to taste defeat as a pro and has already captured bantamweight gold on the regional scene. Taleb had a successful PFL debut during the 2022 Playoffs, submitting Darius Mafi in a Showcase bout, before a first-round finish of Kenji Bortoluzzi in July.
Khurshed Kakhorov, who trained in judo before transitioning into MMA, has won 10 of his 11 pro bouts thus far. Kakhorov enters this fight with two straight wins since his sole loss. Kakhorov, who has seven KO/TKO victories entering tonight, scored a decision over Moktar Benkaci at the PFL Europe card in July.
Who will advance to the bantamweight championship fight and take on Frans Mlambo?
Kakhorov goes for a head kick early but can’t get it off. Both men showing early head movement. Kakhorov targets the leg with his kicks. Front kick misses for Kakhorov, but he lands a second attempt. Taleb backs Kakhorov off with a couple of hooks. Right uppercut lands for Taleb, and Kakhorov is wobbled! Taleb jumps in and looks for a guillotine. He isn’t able to get it, however, and Kakhorov manages to slip out and get on top.
Kakhorov trying to pass the guard of Taleb. Taleb moving himself back toward the fence, but Kakhorov is on top of him, and he keeps Taleb down. Kakhorov lands a couple of left hands, looking for hooks, but Taleb gets back to his feet. Taleb looks for a double-leg takedown, but Kakhorov shakes him off. Kakhorov lands a body kick. Right hand from Kakhorov. The two exchange. Taleb avoids a high kick from Kakhorov. Kakhorov avoids a right hand from Taleb. Kakhorov shoots in, and Taleb looks for another choke, but it’s not in completely and the timer expires.
The two trading early, both throwing their fair share of punches. Taleb appears to have been hurt on the exchange. Kakhorov landing some low kicks, but he eats a right hand from Taleb. Taleb lands a speedy right, and the two continue to trade quick power shots. Taleb misses a high kick. Body kick by Kakhorov and a one-two from Taleb. Kakhorov with snapping jabs. Kakhorov makes Taleb eat a front kick to the face.
Kakhorov lands a strong right hand. Taleb is hurt again! Taleb is against the SmartCage and Kakhorov fires off some more shots. Taleb isn’t going down though! Kakhorov continued to target with leg kicks as Taleb tried to recover. Kakhorov lands a strong right hand on Taleb. Front kick by Kakhorov in the closing seconds.
Low kick from Kakhorov. One-two from Kakhorov. Kick to the body by Kakhorov. Strong left hand from Kakhorov. Kakhorov misses another left. Kick to the body by Kakhorov. Right hand by Kakhorov. Right hand misses for Kakhorov. Left kick by Taleb. One-two from Taleb catches Kakhorov’s attention. Right hand by Taleb, which is followed by a knee and then a control battle against the fence.
Kakhorov keeping himself up and landing some decent body shots. Taleb, however, gets Kakhorov up and places him down on the mat. Kakhorov manages to get back to his feet and turns Taleb’s back to the SmartCage, landing a knee to the body. Kakhorov gets a takedown of his own. Kakhorov looking to get to Taleb’s back. Taleb defending himself well with wrist control, but Kakhorov keeping the position. Kakhorov looking to get the hooks in. Kakhorov looks to return the fight to the feet, but Taleb holds the two of them down for the closing seconds.
Khurshed Kakhorov defeats Ali Taleb by unanimous decision (29-27x2, 29-28)