Aoriqileng lost his first two UFC fights. The Mongolian’s future with the promotion looked very uncertain at the end of 2021 but he was able to make the necessary adjustments and did very well last year.
The 30 year old win both his bouts in 2022 to prove that he belonged with the division’s elite. It left Aoriqileng with a chance of cracking the top 15 for the first time at the start of the year but those ambitions were derailed by a first round stoppage loss to Aiemann Zahabi at UFC 298.
Heading into UFC Vegas 80 last weekend he knew that another defeat would potentially be disastrous for his octagon ambitions. But Aoriqileng was able to grind out a decision win over Johnny Munoz and feels that he was able to make the necessary adjustments in the wake of that recent setback,
“After that (loss) I was down but I went back to camp, regrouped and was able to get the win.”
"The only thing that caught me off guard was the armbar, but we had a good camp to defend that."
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Aoriqileng spends a lot of time at Fight Ready in Arizona working with Eddie Cha. He thinks he was able to showcase some new skills in the win over Munoz Jr,
“I think I did good overall, my wrestling and jiu jitsu has improved.”
At the end of the opening round things were not looking too good for Aoriqileng. Munoz had clearly got the better of the opening exchanges but he credits his corner with giving him instructions on how to defend the takedowns,
“It was expected the first round, he took my back but we had that prepared. During the break they told me to circle away and keep my balance low and I was able to defend the takedowns after that.”
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Aoriqileng would win the last two rounds to take the unanimous decision win with all three judges seeing the fight the same way. He didn’t have things all his way in the second stanza though as Munoz threatened with an armbar.
The Mongolian admits that this submission attempt surprised him but says he was well prepared,
“The only thing that caught me off guard was the armbar but fortunately we had a good camp and I was able to defend that.”
Aoriqileng’s UFC record now stands at 3-3 so he is guaranteed to get at least one more opportunity to compete inside the octagon. His career is back on track and he believes the improvements he made after losing to Zahabi were there for all to see last weekend.