Zubaira Tukhugov admitted that he needs to learn more English in order to express himself better to the media, but the Russian featherweight said enough to let people know that he is determined to leave UFC Fight Island with a win.
Tukhugov will face Canadian striker “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu in a featherweight matchup at UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night. The Chechnya-born fighter said beating his opponent should be good enough to secure him a place in UFC 145. Pound rankings.
“After that fight I’m in the top 15 I think because he’s a good opponent with four (UFC) wins. I think we’ll show them a good fight.”
Tukhugov said he has studied Dawodus fighting style and is ready for a strong, well-rounded opponent. He also stated that he would not speak about his planned deployment until after his fight.
“I saw his last fight. He’s a good fighter, he has good boxing, good blocking, wrestling. A good, strong guy,” he said.
“I need this win. After the fight, I’ll talk about which guys I want in my next fight.”
The fight marks the first time Tukhugov has entered the race since the death of his coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. The 29-year-old admitted he will fight with a heavy heart knowing that his mentor is not in his corner.
“It’s different. Abdulmanap was close to me. He helped me and I felt better. He’s not here now and it’s very sad,” he said.
“We have to fight. We have to keep going. Abdulmanap would want that.”
And if Tukhugov needed extra motivation to fight, he got some from Dawodu, who highlighted his previous win over Tukhugov’s teammate Marat Magomedov in the now-defunct World Series Of Fighting promotion. In fact, this pair fought twice, with the first bout ending in a draw and Dawodu winning the rematch.
“Marat is a good fighter,” said Tukhugov.
“The first fight, I thought he won. The second fight he lost.”
And when Tukhugov was asked if he wanted to get revenge on the Canadian on behalf of his teammate, he laughed.
“Yes!” he said. “I like that. Marat is my friend.”
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