Gadzhimurad Abdulaev is clearly a UFC fan. He has watched Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt fight numerous times and in the wake of his impressive win at ONE: ‘Unbreakable’ the Russian had two names on his mind,

“Since my childhood I was watching Eddie Alvarez and Sage Northcutt fight so if I had the chance I would love to fight with these two guys.”

Alvarez competes in the lightweight division and has held both Bellator and UFC titles at 155lbs but Abdulaev, who fights at welterweight, thinks they are a similar size,

“I would not move down but one of my Dagestan friends is training with Eddie Alvarez and his walking weight is similar to mine so we could fight at welterweight.”

Ready for anyone

The Russian made it clear he was ready to fight absolutely anyone. On Friday he finished former welterweight champion Zebaztian Kadestam inside a round and the performance was particularly impressive under the circumstances,

“I accepted this fight on two week’s notice and I had just had a month’s holiday in Turkey. I wasn’t in shape at all,” he said.

Abdulaev was making his ONE Championship debut. He had identified a hole in Kadestam’s game going into the fight and it didn’t take him long to exploit it,

“The fight went according to my plan and thank god there were no injuries. I was prepared for three rounds but I knew that he is the kind of fighter who gives his back and when I get the back I choke people out.”

Strong push

Kadestam’s status as a former champion makes this a marquee win for the Russian. Abdulaev has been watching ONE Championship for years and thinks his performance compared favourably with anyone the Swedish fighter has faced so far,

“Zebaztian is definitely a strong fighter and he defended his belt twice and just lost it in the last fight. I remember when he was fighting Ben Askren but I think what I did in the ground with him will give me a strong push in this division.”

He was asked about the possibility of being handed an immediate title shot. Abdulaev would like a little longer to prepare but would be happy to go up against reigning champion Kiamrian Abbasov in his next fight,

“I am ready to fight with Kiamrian if you are a fighter and you think you are not ready you are in the wrong sport. Just give me some time to prepare for the next fight and get in shape and you will see a better performance. If I have my full preparation then I think this belt will definitely be mine.”

Playing to his strengths

Abdulaev earned a spot on the ONE: ‘Unbreakable’ card after impressing at ONE Warrior Series 6. He scored a unanimous decision win over Carlos Prates and says the circumstances behind that fight were not exactly ideal either,

“Before flying to Singapore I was in shape but on the flight I caught a cold and I was sick and weak and all I wanted to do was finish the fight. Prates is a good opponent, I don’t think he is worse that Zebaztian but that was my night.”

All it took was one takedown for Abdulaev to finish Kadestam. He was also able to use his wrestling to dominate Prates and is not embarrassed to be playing to his undeniable strengths,

“In Dagestan I have one of the best coaches in the country (for striking) but wrestling is in our blood so whenever I have the chance I take it to the ground.”

Injury free

When pressed Abdulaev threw out the names Alvarez and Northcutt. But he made it clear that he wasn’t looking to pick and choose his opponents or demand title shots and there were only two matches he absolutely ruled out,

“To be honest I didn’t really worry about titles. I don’t want to fight with my Dagestan friends,
Raimond (Magomedaliev) or Murad (Ramazanov), but I don’t really worry about this.”

He also made it clear that having a perfect professional record didn’t bring any additional pressure,

“I never think about this. If I lose I will accept it like a man so I don’t worry about this.”

Abdulaev does not seem to be getting carried away in the aftermath of his biggest win to date. The Russian’s record stands at 6-0 but he is just happy to be fit and healthy,

“The most important thing is that I went into the fight without an injury and I finished the fight without an injury. The career of a fighter is very short so for me this is the most important thing.”