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Chingiz Allazov vs Giorgio Petrosyan

On the 14th July one of the most intriguing fights so far this year is scheduled to take place in Rome. Bellator Kickboxing are featuring a lightweight title fight between Giorgio Petrosyan and Chingiz Allazov.

Petrosyan of course is renowned in the kickboxing world as being one of the greatest pound for pound fighters currently active. He has an extensive resume features names such as Andy Souwer, Fabio Pinca and Britain’s own Jordan Watson. After facing such world class opposition he still boasts an impressive 87-2-2 professional kickboxing career record. This will be his third fight for Bellator, his last being a comfortable win against Amansio Paraschiv in April of last year.

Petrosyan has fought twice since then, the first being on his own promotion (PetrosyanMania) and more recently for ONE Championship in April. The Petrosyan we saw in this instance was more aggressive than usual and relied heavily on countering his opponent’s (Jo Nattawut) kicks with a cross hook combination. However he did get caught with a head kick thrown by Nattawut in the first round (a technique which Nattawut then went to with regularity but with no further success). The fight from then on turned into Petrosyan smothering Nattawut to earn a decision victory.

Petrosyan’s opponent for this bought is certainly less well known than ‘The Doctor’ but offers an interesting challenge for the Armenian. Allazov last fought for Duel on April against Claudiu Badoi in what was probably one of his most dominant performances to date. What makes Allazov so different is his strong use of his lead leg. Although he typically starts in an orthodox stance he extensively uses his lead leg to throw strong kicks to his opponent’s body and head. Unlike the traditional Muay Thai switch kick he generates both power and speed from simply lifting his lead leg. As most of his opponents are orthodox this has the open side advantage that a southpaw would enjoy against an orthodox fight. Being able to deliver strong kicks to the open portion of the body facing the direction the kick is coming from.

Allazov’s opponent quickly felt the power of these kicks, overreacting to Allazov’s feints and teeps and responding with very little in return. Lift leg kicks aren’t the only factor which makes Allazov an extremely unorthodox striker. He often switches stances throughout the fight and demonstrates his capability in both stance, dropping his opponent with a cross from a southpaw stance in the first round before forcing three more eight counts to seal the victory in the third round with a right hook to the body.

Allazov’s last loss came in 2016 to Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (the current Glory lightweight champion) in a fight which went to an extra round. Allazov’s bread and butter lead leg left kicks were nullified by the southpaw stance of Sitthichai (like Petrosyan) as they were coming into the closed side. This was not helped by the heritage of Sitthichai’s Muay Thai background, a style which puts emphasis on the ability to check kicks rather than allow them to score on the body or arms. Allazov did not switch stances as much as he previously had and was often on the back foot as Sitthichai pressured with heavy kicks to the open side of Allazov. The teep also worked well for Sitthichai disrupting the combinations of Allazov (the same way the recipient had used his jab to stop Badoi from starting his combinations in his most recent fight). These are all traits which Petrosyan regularly displays in his fight as he builds his style and disrupts his opponents rhythm.

Although this might seem to favour Petrosyan, there is an interesting parallel between Allazov and Andy Ristie, the man who delivered a shock knockout over Petrosyan in the Glory lightweight tournament in 2013. Petrosyan was not able to dictate the pace of the fight as is his usual style. Walking opponents down with teeps and countering with boxing combinations simply didn’t work with the constant stance switching of Ristie mid combination. This culminated in a corkscrew left uppercut which ended the fight.

Now these are some strong similarities between Ristie and Allazov. Both enjoy switching stances and have demonstrated they are capable and have power in both. They also work well as aggressors but are significantly worse when they are the ones being pressured. However whereas Ristie will switch stance mid combination, Allazov tends to switch stance in between exchanges and remains in the same stance until he has disengaged. This could give Petrosyan more of an opportunity to anticipate where the attacks will come from as opposed to trying to read the chaotic style of Ristie.

It is interesting to see how both men did against the same opponent, in this case Enriko Khel. Once again Allazov was not able to utilise the left lead leg kick against the southpaw and remained in an orthodox stance for the majority of the fight. He did have most success when he mirrored Khel’s southpaw stance, countering left kicks with his own and scoring several including across the back as he utilised a lean back. His constant movement also gave Khel trouble as he refused to allow Khel to settle and set up power strikes. Allazov demonstrated his ability to fade away from an engagement when Khel was set to throw whilst keeping well away from the corners. If needs be he would clinch and turn Khel to escape to space whilst peppering him with kicks throughout the fight. He was able to finish the fight in the 5th and final round which less than 15 seconds left with a right hook to the head which Khel could not recover from.

Petrosyan used a different approach and pressured Khel with jabs and teeps for much of the first round. Khel was often countered with crosses when he tried to open up but still landed several left hooks on Petrosyan (a punch Allazov has finished several opponents with). However for much of the fight it was Petrosyan 101. Find what is landing and exploiting it ruthlessly, in this case marching one two combinations. It was also interesting to see how Petrosyan frustrated Khel several times by sweeping him, a move which is not allowed in K1 but the referee did not punish despite occurring a number of times. This was a move which the referee in Khel’s bout with Allazov ensured was enforced after Khel tried to sweep Allazov.

So what does this tell us? Petrosyan like to build his fight up, starting with jabs and teeps, progressively shutting down his opponents weapons whilst developing his own. Allazov prefers a more aggressive movement based approach pressuring opponents with his unpredictable kicks and then fading away when they attempt to counter. If Allazov allows Petrosyan to establish his ground work early on that could be a deciding factor. To win this Allazov needs to remain set out his stall early and mimic Andy Risite’s example. Not letting Petrosyan settle and mixing up the angle with his stance switches as well as using his movement to avoid the pressure of Petrosyan. His power is proven and his strong body shots would be an interesting test of the conditioning of Petrosyan. On the other side of the ring this will be a test of lessons learned for Petrosyan, will he be able to wear down and effectively counter Allazov? Or will this become Petroysan’s 3rd professional loss? Either way this is proving to be one of the most interesting matchups so far this year.

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