Khabib Nurmagomedov insists he’ll once again prove sambo by far exceeds jiu-jitsu when he collides with Rafael dos Anjos in their leading lightweight contenders match-up on tonight’s UFC on Fox 11 card in Orlando, Florida.
“Fedor Emelianenko proved this in the past, while fighters like Vitaly Minakov, Ali Bagautinov, Rustam Khabilov, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev and myself are proving this today.
“Just look at the results we were able to deliver after fighting only a few years in the UFC and Bellator. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has been around since 1993. Everyone knows about it. Just give it a few years and everyone will be talking about combat sambo.”
Victory tonight will take Nurmagomedov, currently ranked number seven at 155lb, one step closer to a shot at the UFC lightweight belt. Yet he’s in no rush to call out prospective future opponents – in his mind he’s got to beat everybody at some point regardless.
Speaking in his first big interview for Western press in the current issue of Fighters Only, Nurmagomedov says: “Everyone is talking about the rankings and who deserves the next title shot. I’m not bothered with any of this. I don’t pick my opponents simply because my only goal is to beat them one after another.
“I’m working hard to improve myself as a fighter because it’s my job. Someone is an engineer, someone is a doctor, I’m a fighter. I go to work every day and train hard. I know that it will all pay off in the future and I will become a champion.”
He adds: “With victory over Rafael dos Anjos I will be in the top five, then it will be extremely hard for any of the other leading lightweights to say, ‘Oh, Khabib is not good enough. He’s not famous.’ Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Anthony Pettis… I would love to fight all of them.”
Of a possible Pettis match-up later in the year, he added: “I believe I can beat him. Just look at his fight with Clay Guida and what happened to him. Jeremy Stephens as well. I don’t think he has ever tested himself against a top quality wrestler like myself. Now and in the future I have very good chances to beat him. I feel very comfortable fighting strikers. Time will tell.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Rafael dos Anjos is the final fight of tonight’s preliminary card live from Orlando, Florida – live on Fox Sports in the US, and BT Sport in the UK.