Featherweight hot prospect Dennis Buzukja knows where he wants to be, and that’s the UFC’s Octagon.
The 25-year-old Longo-Weidman MMA prospect was all set to do just that in May when he accepted a short-notice fight with undefeated Russian contender Movsar Evloev at UFC 288, only for Evloev to opt to face Diego Lopes instead.
It left Buzukja on the outside, looking in, as another prospect stepped in and gave a great account of himself, albeit in defeat, on a UFC pay-per-view event.
Buzukja returns to action on Friday night at CFFC 120 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, where he’ll take on Soslam Abanokov in a featherweight bout. It’s an opportunity to remind the UFC’s matchmakers that he’s ready for the big stage.
“I just love to fight,” Buzukja told CFFC.tv.
“What else am I going to do with my time? I don’t have that entitled mindset like, ‘I deserve this. I deserve that,’ type of thing. I just go out there, work, earn it, and go after it and do what I love and make the most of every day.”
Buzukja came close to reaching the UFC back in 2020 when he competed on the Contender Series, but he was defeated on the scorecards by Melsik Baghdasaryan, who was subsequently signed to the UFC roster. Buzukja then reeled off a hat-trick of victories to earn another Contender Series shot in July 2022. This time he picked up the decision win over Keleio Romero, but it wasn’t enough to earn him a UFC deal.
“We were all together when we went back to the house after the fight, and I’m like, ‘I won the fight, but I feel like I lost,'” Buzukja said.
“It wasn’t about winning the fight – it was about getting a contract, so definitely a weird feeling. I felt like I lost the night, like the overall picture, but the goal doesn’t stop, you know? We just keep going. This is my sport, and I’m going to build on it.”
Since his second Contender Series appearance, Buzukja has returned to action and picked up two more wins. Now he’s looking to extend that win streak to seven with victory over Abanokov in a fight that will be streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.
“It’s always nice when I fight local,” he said.
“I get huge support, a big crowd. It just gives me more energy when I step in the cage.
“He likes to throw some bombs. He likes to throw heavy. He’ll throw a spinning kick here and there, but it’s nothing I really haven’t seen before. He’s a little shorter than me, stocky. I’ve got to respect his power and respect him as an opponent with two arms and two legs, but I just think I’m on another level. I’ve fought the better guys, and I’ve trained with the best in the world, so I think it’s going to be another first-round knockout.”
After three UFC near-misses already in his career, Buzukja will be hoping that a big win in Atlantic City will finally punch his ticket to the big stage. But while he’s still on his journey, he said he’s grateful to do so with the amount of support he brings along the way.
“I’m very fortunate, and I just have so many sponsors that have really backed me and given me the support I need to just train and focus and do what I have to do,” he said.
“I’m very thankful for them, and I know I’m going to become world champ.
“I’m 25 years old. I just love to fight, and I’m going to keep fighting until I get to where I want to be. I’ll just keep working.
“Friday, I just want to put on another crazy, highlight-reel finish. That’s what I’m looking for.”