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Shavkat Rakhmonov entered the Octagon to face Geoff Neal at UFC 285 riding a big wave of hype as the premier up-and-coming prospect in the welterweight division. Rakhmonov justified the hype, battling through tough spots before scoring a third-round submission to run his perfect record to 17-0.

Neal didn't have a perfect week, badly missing weight on Friday, resulting in the fight being fought at a 175-pound catchweight. Despite the weight cutting issues and the dominant fighter in front of him, Neal put up a tremendous fight, catching Rakhmonov with several clean punches and even hurting Rakhmonov early in the third round with a big combination.

Rakhmonov bounced back from being stumbled in that final round to maul Neal along the cage. As Neal looked to create space and try to find another chance to let his hands go, Rakhmonov locked up a modified standing bulldog choke and squeezed to force a submission.

While Neal was willing to exchange strikes with Rakhmonov, it was Rakhmonov who got the best of most of those trades. In addition to clean punching, Rakhmonov began to wear Neal down through heavy knees to the body.

The finish came at the 4:17 mark of Round 3, giving Rakhnomov not only a win in the toughest fight of his career, but doing so on a platform that gave him much-needed visibility in front of a large audience.

After the fight, Rakhmonov made it clear that he believes he is now ready to compete for a title shot, specifically calling out multi-time title challenger Colby Covington for a No. 1 contender fight.

"I've been saying one or two fights before the title shot," Rakhmonov said. "I'm ready now."

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