'I like him as a fighter': Petr Yan says he'd love to face TJ Dillashaw when former UFC champ returns from drugs ban (VIDEO)
Russian bantamweight star Petr Yan has been nothing short of a revelation since arriving in the UFC, and now the man known as "No Mercy" finds himself on the verge of a UFC bantamweight title shot.
Yan chatted to RT Sport and revealed that he has two names on his hit list.
"There’s no dream fight for me, no desired opponent. My main goal is the belt," Yan told RT Sport.
"Right now, Cejudo has it. If anyone else has the belt, the name isn’t the main thing. The main thing is the belt itself."
Cejudo's inclusion in his plans is obvious, but the other name he mentioned was perhaps a touch surprising: former world champion TJ Dillashaw, who is currently serving an anti-doping suspension after being stripped of his bantamweight title.Also on rt.com UFC 245: Petr Yan spoils Urijah Faber's title hopes, lands stunning third-round head-kick KO (VIDEO)
"I’ve been asked about it. People are saying it would be very interesting to see us fight, because we have similar styles, we’re both stand-up fighters, we both have hard shots and both look to finish fights as soon as possible," he said.
"I’d be interested in this fight. Ever since I started my career I’ve watched his fights. I like him as a fighter, I think he’s a competitive fighter. So I’d be glad to fight him in the future. And I think it will happen.
"It’s just about one year and he’ll be back. He’s a big name, I think he’ll be back to the rankings when he comes back, so I think we’ll fight."
Yan said he wasn't concerned with Dillashaw's doping history, and said that the American's checkered past with the drug-testing authorities should mean there's actually a lesser chance of him facing an illegally-enhanced opponent.
"No, I don’t care," he said.
"He’s been caught, and he’s not denying it. But as I said, I don’t really care. He’ll be tested more carefully. So on fight night he’ll be clean."Also on rt.com Dillashaw banned: Ex-UFC bantamweight champion handed 2-year USADA suspension
Allegations of doping are something Yan himself has had to deal with in the past, and the Siberian star said he takes it all in his stride.
"Yes, there was a lot of talk," he remembered.
"Let’s take my second fight with Magomed Magomedov in ACB. After our first fight, people said, ‘How is he still fresh after five rounds?’ In the second fight I was the same, fresh after five rounds, but I was more rational, and I knew that I had to give him a chance to work.
"But in our last fight, ACB checked me for doping, as well as in my title defense fight. Not too many people know about that. I haven’t spoken about it much. So if anyone is curious – I think if ACB had found anything they would definitely have made it public.
"And then, ahead of my signing with the UFC, there were six to seven months when they couldn’t sign me because I tore my ACL and my manager told the UFC about it. They said – when you heal up, when you’re ready, we’ll restart the dialog with you. So many people (in Russia), again the same people who wanted (to say it) said, 'He’s cleaning up his doping.'
"I was ready to accept a fight in a month or two or three. I wouldn’t want to hype it up, plus back then I didn’t really have the resources, the media wasn’t paying much attention to me back then."Also on rt.com No Mercy for No Love? Victorious Petr Yan in confrontation with Cody Garbrandt after UFC 245 win (VIDEO)
Now Yan is regularly tested as part of the UFC's USADA-administered anti-doping policy, and he says the frequency and complexity of the testing means fans should have no concerns about him using PEDs.
"During the period of a year and a half I’ve been checked about 10 times. Almost every month," he said.
"I think that if they had found anything in my system, I wouldn’t be here now."