'I’m coming for Holloway soon': Russian UFC star Zabit Magomedsharipov on title plans (VIDEO)
Following his victory over veteran Jeremy Stephens at UFC 235 in Las Vegas last weekend – his fifth consecutive octagon win – Dagestan native Magomedsharipov once again moved up in the featherweight rankings and now comfortably sits in sixth position.
But the 28-year-old fighter says he’s not looking to ease off anytime soon, and is ready to aim much higher than many would have thought before his UFC debut. With his relaxed demeanor, wiry frame and trademark bushy hair, Magomedsharipov is far from your typical MMA fighter.Also on rt.com 'Zabeast': Russian star Zabit shines in biggest win of career at UFC 235
Nevertheless, he is known as Zabeast for his high-intensity fighting style, which in a short period of time has gained him a solid fanbase in Russia and far beyond.
RT Sport met with Zabit upon his arrival to Moscow on Wednesday morning to talk about his last fight and future plans.
Congratulations on your latest victory. MMA fans and pundits were saying that this fight is going to be the biggest test for you. Do you agree with them?
Thank you. Yeah of course it was my first opponent from the top rankings. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. He is number 6 in our division. Hard fighter who always goes forward, hard punches. It’s a big experience for me, a very good fight.
Nevertheless, you still displayed your favorite ‘showtime kick’, does it mean you were confident enough?
I read the comment after the fights. People were expecting me to show some Mortal Kombat moves from the very beginning. He is a different kind of fighter. When you are fighting the top guys, you don’t want to go all in from the very beginning. Main thing was to beat him. He was ranked 6 and it got me a step closer to the championship belt, that’s something I am here for. I did take much risk, just working according to the plan, whatever coach told me to do.
Stephens was acting pretty aggressively at the weigh-in and after the rounds. What do you make of that sort of behavior? Do you accept it as part of the show? Or you’d rather keep it about respect?
He didn’t really say anything personal. Before the fight he was posting some pictures, comparing me with someone. To be honest I don’t really pay attention to things like that. Especially before the fight. It was just sporting competition. Yeah there was some trouble, but we shook hands after the fight, so it’s all good.
The UFC recently published their list of medical suspensions, and according to that you damaged your left foot, and depending on the results of the tests, you might be medically suspended for up to six months.
Yes, I’ve seen it. I read it just yesterday. I get this sort of damage after each fight. I always damage my foot. It’s not that serious an injury to miss half a year. When I get home I’ll undergo medical tests and show them the results. Even if it’s going to be a half a year (suspension), I’m not planning on coming back before that. I’ll need some time (to prepare) after Ramadan. But I don’t think there’s anything that serious to miss half a year.
There are rumors that the UFC might stage one more event in Russia in the fall, August or September. Would you be interested in performing in Russia? Or at this point you will only perform at pay-per-view events in the States?
They (the UFC) don’t really want me to compete in Russia, unless it’s going to be a pay-per-view event, so it’s solely the US for now. But of course I would love to compete at home. Even the last time I was asking if I could compete in Moscow, but they didn’t want it.
After the fight you said that you want to fight the winner of the Jose Aldo-Alexander Volkanovski bout. If you had to bet, who would you bet on?
Who would win? I think Aldo will win, it’s a good fight for him (stylistically). Volkanovski always keeps going forward. But I want Aldo to win so I can fight him. I’m ranked 6 now, Volkanovski is number 4, Aldo is number one. If Aldo wins, I get closer to the title fight. So I want to fight Aldo.
(Max) Holloway is fighting in April, he’s the featherweight champion and now he’s fighting in the lightweight division. Do you follow him? Would you be interested to test yourself against him one day?
Yes, of course I follow him, he’s the champion of our division. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll fight him. He’s going to fight in the lightweight division, of course it’ll be hard for him. He’s not that big to compete with those guys. I think he’ll stay in the featherweight division.
How do you rate yourself at the moment? Are you ready to fight Holloway? Or you’d rather take one step at a time?
I’m not sure… I think I’m ready to fight him, but I should take one more three-round fight and then think of that. The next fight [after that] I can take him on for sure. I think I'll be ready soon.
Would you consider fighting in the lightweight division one day?
For now I’m not gaining any weight. If in the future there are any issues with the weight cut... I’ve never had any issues so far, I always do it in advance with the dietologist. But if there are any issues with the weight cut, I’ll step up, I won’t be torturing myself.