Ahead of his first UFC main event, light heavyweight Magomed Ankalaev has dismissively looked back on his sole defeat in professional MMA.
Since joining the UFC in 2018, a signing that came after he’d amassed a 9-0 record across various Russian promotions, Ankalaev has established himself as one of the fastest rising and most promising contenders in the promotion.
But while he’s defeated the likes of Volkan Oezdemir, Nikita Krylov, and Ion Cuțelaba in recent times, the Dagestani’s stint in the UFC didn’t get off to the best start.
Ankalaev made his debut against Scotland’s Craig at a UFC Fight Night held at London, England’s O2 Arena. Until the final second of the fight, “Bearjew” was on his way to a third straight loss. But with one second on the clock, he secured victory with a clutch triangle choke submission.
During a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, the topic of Ankalaev’s only setback in the sport came up. Judging by his answer, the 29-year-old is clearly not too bothered about the blemish on his record.
Claiming he’d forgotten all about it, Ankalaev suggested the defeat means nothing given the pair’s current standings in the division.
“Until you brought it up, I hadn’t thought about it in a very long time,” Ankalaev said. “I had forgotten all about it. I’m not thinking about Paul Craig or worried about him at all. Look where he is and look where I am.”
Ankalaev & Craig Hope To Extend Their Win Streaks This Month
While March 2018 saw the pair share the cage, March 2022 will see both Ankalaev and Craig look to climb further up the light heavyweight ladder in separate clashes.
The Scotsman, who is riding a three-fight win streak that features victories over Jamahal Hill, Shogun Rua, and Gadzhimurad Antigulov, will return to UK turf on March 19 to face top-10 contender Krylov.
Ankalaev, meanwhile, is set to enter the main event spotlight at this weekend’s UFC Vegas 50 event. In his way of a place in the 205-pound top five and title contention will be Thiago Santos, a 22-fight UFC veteran who challenged Jon Jones for gold back in 2019.
With the winner likely only one victory away from securing a date with the champion, this weekend’s main event certainly has a lot at stake. Ankalaev will hope to make an impact as he looks to surge into the group of elites at 205 pounds.
Do you see Magomed Ankalaev as a future UFC light heavyweight champion?