UFC Stockholm Fight to Watch: Akman vs. Khandozhko
On paper, the UFC Stockholm fight card is a sleeper. It may not immediately catch the eye of your average mixed martial arts fan, but those cards often end up being the most exciting.
Usually, there are more low-key fighters, or debutants, with chips on their shoulders, looking to make their mark for the sport’s grandest promotion. Saturday night in Stockholm will be no different for many of the fighters on the card, highlighted by the prelims headliner, where the home town prospect Rostem Akman (5-0) is set to face a Russian newcomer in Sergey Khandozhko (25-5-1).
This welterweight bout will consist of two young debutants getting the platform to make an impact, and secure their futures in the UFC.
The undefeated Akman is a local fighter, coming into this fight on short notice (replacing Bartosz Fabinski). He is an exciting prospect, perhaps getting his shot earlier than expected — but getting the call from the UFC is an opportunity not to be turned down.
Akman has spent his short pro career fighting under the Swedish Superior Challenge promotion, amassing five wins, with all five being stoppages (4 KO, 1 Sub).
His last bout took place on May 11, and just three weeks later, the 27-year-old has stayed ready, and is about to step into the Octagon for the very first time, in his home town.
Across the cage from Akman will be Russian contender in Sergey Khandozhko. “Honda” will enter the Octagon on Saturday carrying a significant advantage in terms of professional experience, having already fought 31 times at the age of 28.
But despite being the more experienced fighter, the pressure is on the muay-thai specialist to adapt quickly to a new opponent, and grab his UFC opportunity with both hands.
Khandozhko will come into this fight riding a two-fight win streak (both stoppages), securing a knockout victory the last time out, in August, 2018, under the Russian League S-70 banner.
Headlining the prelims is an opportunity like no other for fighters to make a real statement. For Akman, a win would mean a significant incline in the trajectory of his career, and a UFC victory as early as in his sixth professional appearance.
In Khandozhko’s case, a win would gratify all the work that he has put in over his 31 professional outings, especially considering that he is a fighter trying to break out of a stacked market that is Russia.
This fight could prove to be a golden ticket to becoming a UFC regular for either fighter, and you can rest assured that both contenders will leave it all out there as they step into the Octagon to top off the prelims on Saturday night.
Sports journalist currently based in CA, USA.