Following his impressive second-round kneebar of Brandon Davis at UFC 228, Zabit had a name already on the tip of his tongue, and he was sure to utter it before making his exit: Chad Mendes. That selection was not because Zabit sees Mendes as being an advantageous matchup stylistically. On the contrary, it was because of the challenge Mendes presents and how surmounting that challenge would help advance Zabit’s long-term goals going forward (Quotes Via MMAJunkie):
“He’s not an easy contender, but you’ve got to fight the best to become the best,” Magomedsharipov told reporters Saturday during a backstage scrum. “I’m taller. He’s very strong, and he has a very good hitting technique, which might be superior to me. But I want to show my best in the fight.”
Of course the other name that has been discussed as the next opponent for Zabit Magomedsharipov has been Yair Rodriguez, who was the original opponent for Zabit at UFC 228 but was forced to withdraw from the contest due to injury. In somewhat of a plot twist following all the drama surrounding the potential contest, Yair Rodriguez has publicly expressed an interest in settling the unfinished business the two featherweights have between them. However, Zabit expressed that he is only open to fighting Yair Rodriguez to “put an end to it,” and that if it were up to him, he would prefer to face Chad Mendes. As for which opponent the UFC prefers, Zabit is as in the dark as the rest of us:
“I haven’t gotten any official response so far,” Magomedsharipov said of his desire to fight Chad Mendes. “I’m just planning to take some rest for now, and me and my managers are going to get this settled very soon.”
Who would you rather see Zabit Magomedsharipov face next? Yair Rodriguez or Chad Mendes?