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He made weight without issue, looked fresh and focused stepping into the cage, and despite only being an inch taller than his opponent, appeared to have a solid size advantage over the Canadian. More importantly, he showed a keen understanding of his range, using kicks early to keep Gordon at distance, and accurate, explosive hands, as the first clean left he landed had a clear impact and it wasn’t long after that two more lasers from the southpaw stance brought the fight to a close.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is that the author of that breathtaking effort wasn’t completely satisfied with his exploits.

“That was a short-notice fight, so I could not perform the way I wanted,” said Sumudaerji, who carries a 13-4 record and a two-fight winning streak into Wednesday’s encounter with Adashev.

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After having extended breaks between each of his first three UFC appearances, this week’s bout is an expedited return to action, one the promising flyweight hopes will result in a similar performance and a place in the rankings early next week.

“I would say the same way from the last fight,” he said when asked to forecast how things will play out with Adashev, who landed on the wrong side of a quick finish in his promotional debut last summer in Las Vegas. “After this fight in Abu Dhabi, I want to be in the rankings.

“I’m coming for the title,” he added, explaining that his goal for 2021 is to finish the year stationed inside the Top 5 at flyweight, which would certainly put him in range of challenging for championship gold.


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