Undefeated Kazakh welterweight Shavkat Rakhmonov summed up the fight with American Jeff Neil, who finished by rear naked choke in the third round.
“I could have done better, but I am happy that I won,” Nomad said at a press conference after UFC 285. “Jeff Neal is a very difficult opponent, and besides, he failed the weigh-in, and was very heavy – I felt it’s in the clinch when I tried to translate it”
“He weighed not 300-400 grams, but two kilograms, and the fight was almost canceled, but I flew to Las Vegas and wanted to fight, so we insisted that the fight be left in force. I knew that my skills were better, so I was confident that I would win.”
Rakhmonov is convinced that an early win over Neil is a good enough reason to qualify for a fight with the winner of the title rematch between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman, who will meet on March 18 at UFC 286 in London.
“Jeff Neal fought a lot of tough opponents and I was the only one who managed to finish him. The decision is up to the UFC, but I’m ready for a title shot and it will be great if this fight happens in Abu Dhabi in October. Half of the arena will be filled with fans from Kazakhstan and it will be a big event for my country.”
According to Rakhmonov, the experience of joint training with Usman is not a problem and will not interfere with their fight if the Nigerian manages to regain the championship belt.
“It won’t be a problem. We only trained once, I don’t have any friendly feelings for him, just like he has for me. I only see him as an opponent and if he regains the title I’m ready to face him.”