Mokhtar Benkaci is unbeaten in 10 of his last 11 fights and enters after making his PFL debut in a showcase bout in the PFL Playoffs last year. Unfortunately for Benkaci, his six-fight win streak was snapped in that bout, which served as a PFL Europe qualifier, as it ended in a no-contest when opponent Francesco Nuzzi was left unable to continue after an accidental eye poke.
Khurshed Kakhorov trained in judo prior to making his professional MMA debut in 2017. Kakhorov enters with a 9-1 record, and he won his first seven bouts. Kakhorov competed in Bellator between 2021 and 2022, defeating Jair Junior before a loss to Brett Johns. Kakhorov most recently fought at NFC 12 in February, defeating Lascha Abramishvili.
The winner of this fight will face Ali Taleb, who was victorious earlier tonight, in the PFL Playoffs in Paris on September 30.
Note that Benkaci comes into this bout with an automatic one-point deduction for missing weight.
Kakhorov with a low kick as the two feel each other out. Kakhorov lands a jab, then lands a sharp low kick. Round kick to the body by Kakhorov. Kakhorov comes in with a Superman punch and a low kick. Benkaci lands a low kick, and Kakhorov responds with one of his own. Kakhorov lands a couple of combinations. Benkaci comes forward and throws a one-two before landing a left hook. The two trade leg kicks. Kakhorov lands a big leg kick, but Benkaci answers with a one-two.
An overhand from Kakhorov pushes Benkaci back. The two trade before Kakhorov partially connects with a high kick. Low kick by Khakorov, followed by a right hand. A big right hand by Kakhorov rocks Benkaci, who covers up and retreats as Khakorov fires a flurry. Benkaci survives but is left to still shake cobwebs out as he continues to eat single shots from Kakhorov. Benkaci lands a low kick that deals some damage to Khakorov’s lead leg. Round kick to the body by Benkaci. Kakhorov goes for the Superman punch and the two briefly end up in a clinch.
The two trade leg kicks to open, before Kakhorov pressures Benkaci with several more of those, damaging Benkaci’s leg. Benkaci trying to work his jab, but Kakhorov is out of the way. Kakhorov works the jab and continues to land kicks to the body and legs of Benkaci. Benkaci lands a right to the midsection.
Kakhorov lands a couple of shots upstairs that get Benkaci’s attention. The pace has slowed, with Benkaci on the back foot and very defensive. Kakhorov landed a couple of more low kicks. Kakhorov lands a left to the body, and then one to the head. Both land upstairs with about a minute left in the round. A straight right hand by Kakhorov. Kakhorov lands on the inside with a left uppercut. Benkaci with a one-two and a kick, but Kakhorov answers with a high kick.
Kakhorov continues on the front foot, as the two trade throughout this third round. The pace has certainly slowed. Benkaci tries to hold his own on the feet, but Kakhorov’s low kicks have done their damage, while Benkaci hasn’t thrown much of them since the opening round.
Benkaci lands a solid right hand in the fight’s final minute. He goes for a body lock, but Kakhorov easily shakes him off. Kakhorov lands a couple more left hands. Kakhorov then cracks Benkaci and forces him up against the SmartCage. Benkaci shakes it off, however, and is able to dump Kakhorov to the ground briefly before the end of the round.
Khurshed Kakhorov def. Mokhtar Benkaci via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)