Having defeated longtime contender Jeremy Stephens this past weekend at UFC 235, rising featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov believes a title shot is within reach. Could the Dagestan fighter be tapped for a championship fight next? Or might he need to score one more win?
Magomedsharipov faced Stephens on the card’s prelims, and although the latter came on strong in the end, Zabit walked away with the unanimous decision victory. With the win, Magomedsharipov moved his overall record to 17-1, and he remains undefeated in the Octagon.
Due to Magomedsharipov’s impressive run in the UFC thus far, and because of his awe-inspiring skill set, there’s been talk for some time about what a win over Stephens could lead to. While talking to the media afterward, the 28-year-old had this to say about his next fight and his performance (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I think I’m close enough – I’m 5-0, and the belt is up for grabs,” Magomedsharipov said. “I’m ready to fight my next fight for a title, or wait for the winner of (Jose) Aldo and (Alexander) Volkanovski.”
“In general, I’m very happy with my performance,” Magomedsharipov said. “I got to 5-0 now. This was a good performance against a top opponent, so I’m happy about it. I needed this win.
“… I knew Jeremy was a tough opponent from the beginning. I was ready for everything. I had a good camp back home in Dagestan … and then I came to the U.S. about a month and a half in advance…”
There you have it. Now, when you consider that Stephens was ranked #6 prior to UFC 235, there’s no question that Magomedsharipov has moved into the title shot mix. As it stands right now, we don’t know if he’ll be moved into the top five, but you would think he’ll be very close if he’s not.
But, it would be kind of surprising if Zabit was tapped for a title fight. The current champ Max Holloway is set to face Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title on April 13th. So, the UFC could very well move forward with an interim belt at 145. You would think if that happens, that either Jose Aldo vs. Alexander Volkanovski would be for that belt (Aldo recently reported that Volkanovski is one of the fighters he’s interested in fighting). Or the winner advances to face say, Frankie Edgar or Brian Ortega for an interim title.
Then again, you never know. Zabit does have a lot of momentum behind him and he’s ridiculously entertaining to watch. So, maybe a championship appearance is around the corner.