'I'm going to make it violent': Kazakhstan's Mariya Agapova prepares to make UFC history
The UFC will add a new flag to its increasingly eclectic roster on Saturday night when Kazakh flyweight Mariya Agapova makes her debut for the promotion.
Agapova will throw down with American Hannah Cifers behind closed doors on the undercard at the UFC's latest event from its Apex facility in Las Vegas – marking what will be a first for Agapova and her nation.
No fighter from the central Asian country has stepped into the octagon before, and rising flyweight Agapova is desperate to mark the occasion in style.
“I’m just really glad to be fighting here in Vegas. It was my dream to fight here, and so when I came for Dana White’s Contender Series, I was really excited,” Agapova told the UFC website.
“I lost that fight, so I was really excited to be able to come back here and have another chance.”
That defeat referenced by Agapova came via unanimous decision to America's Tracy Cortez back in July, and remains the only blemish in the Kazakh's nine-fight pro career.
She has since rattled off two wins in the all-women's Invicta promotion, further justifying the UFC's call to sign the promising 23-year-old prospect.
Agapova's big-league bow comes against the 27-year-old Cifers, who was last in action as recently as two weeks ago when she suffered a first-round submission defeat to Mackenzie Dern – a bout memorable for seeing the first-ever leg submission in UFC history.
Cifers has stepped in after Agapova's planned opponent Melissa Gatto was forced out of the bout due to visa issues.
Speaking on her 27-year-old opponent, the Russian-speaking Agapova said facing Cifers – who stands 10-5 and is moving to 125lbs for the first time – would mean a "colorful" fight between two solid strikers.
“I know she is a striker and I think it will create an interesting matchup when we fight," Agapova said.
"People who are fans of fighting love to watch fighters stay standing up and striking. It will be a colorful fight.
“I am going to try to make it violent and I’m going to enjoy myself. That’s my only goal,” added the Florida-based Agapova, who trains alongside the likes of fellow UFC fighter Gillian Robertson and Bellator starlet Valerie Loureda at the American Top Team gym.
Agapova's enjoyment has also extended to the build-up to Saturday night, with the fledgling flyweight star taking in the bright lights of Vegas and cutting a relaxed figure despite the biggest fight of her career looming into view.
One suspects that Agapova won't be quite so relaxed when she stares down Cifers from across the octagon on Saturday night, but should she overcome the American then she will clearly mark herself out as a potential long-term prospect for the UFC as it welcomes yet another nation into its increasingly international ranks.Also on rt.com 'I want to be the MOM CHAMP': UFC's Mackenzie Dern targets MORE history after unique submission win (PHOTOS)