Guram Kutateladze is doing his UFC bow on Fight Island this weekend, hoping to get the same explosive impact in the promotion as his friend and training partner Khamzat Chimaev.
Kutateladze has appeared as a short-term opponent against UFC debutants Mateusz Gamrot after Russian Magomed Mustafaev was pushed out of his easy fight.
Georgian-born Kutateladze heads into the octagon with a winning streak of eight bouts scored in various promotions including BRAVE CF, but will be competing for the first time since November 2019.
With him in Abu Dhabi is friend and teammate Chimaev, with whom he trains at the Allstars gym in Stockholm, Sweden – the country he now lives in.
In front of his arch this weekend, 28-year-old Kutateladze spoke to RT Sport on Fight Island about the journey that had brought him to that point.
“I’ve been waiting for one [UFC] Long shot for a quote and I was ready to show myself anytime, “he said.
“My manager called me and said that [UFC official] Sean Shelby called us and we’re in and we have a chance, of course we took it immediately.
“We are ready, now we are here.”
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The undefeated Gamrot, who is coming to the UFC as KSW lightweight champion, will stand above the octagon on Yas Island.
Instead of withdrawing from the Pole’s challenge, Kutateladze said he would enjoy it.
“I’m very happy, this is the kind of opponent I need. He’s also undefeated. It’s perfect for my ranking and my résumé,” he said.
In Kutateladze’s corner will be Chimaev, the man who, after his three wins in just over two months after arriving on the UFC scene, has his own hype train on the move.
Chimaev faked his name with two of these victories in 10 days on Fight Island, and while any connection with the man of the moment will inevitably draw extra attention to Kutateladze, he says he is happy with it.
“I don’t really pay attention to it, I just do my thing, do my job, what I live for and what I train for. This is not my job to look out for it, “he said.
“I’ve known Khamzat for three years, we met in the gym, he moved to Stockholm, to Allstars, I came there for my training camp, I don’t remember which fight.
“We did a good, tough sparring together. Then we clicked. We almost lived together in the same room, in the gym, worked out together, ate, talked, relaxed together. “
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Given his proximity to Chimaev, Kutateladze said he was not surprised by his rapid ascent.
“I’m not surprised at his amazing performance. He deserves it and is working super hard for where he is now. It is not the limit, there is much more to come. “
Kutateladze’s own journey took him from Georgia to Russia – where he took up jiu-jitsu at the age of five – and then on to Sweden.
He attributed his peripatetic background to a variety of factors, from financial to political.
When he arrived in Sweden, he first lived in Lund outside Malmö, where he trained, worked and lived in a gym – often under spartan conditions.
“I worked there as an instructor, lived in the gym, slept on the mats for maybe 2-3 years and gave classes, and when something needed to be done I did it, fix something, paint, do a lot of gardening,” he said.
“At the same time I had to train, my main thing is my career, but at that time I had my two losses in my career, they come from that time because I had no coach, no team, I was pretty, I trained a lot and worked 14, 15, 16 hours a day, after that I found Allstars and after that things started to come together.
“I haven’t lost almost five years now. Hopefully, with God’s will, it will continue like this.”
Kutateladze has a ready-made example of what can be accomplished in a short amount of time in the UFC in the form of Chimaev, and when asked if his friend had any advice before his debut, the answer was usually short: “Just crush all. “
Chimaev has certainly done that so far; On Fight Island, Kutateladze will begin his attempts to do exactly the same this weekend.