UFC Vegas 13: Khalid Taha Looking to Show He Belongs in Top 15

Returning to the octagon for the first time in over a year at UFC Vegas 13 this weekend is bantamweight Khalid Taha. And he’s glad the wait is over. “It was a tough year. I think it was a tough year for everyone,” he said during this week’s UFC Vegas 13 media day.

Taha (13-2, 1NC) was exiled due to a positive drug test for a banned diuretic. With that incident behind him, the German fighter said that “I’m ready to be back, I’m happy to be back.” Although when he does officially come back, it won’t be against the opponent he expected.

Jack Shore was supposed to be the man welcoming Khalid Taha back to the octagon this a Saturday. With Shore out of the fight, Raoni Barcelos stepped in. Media caught wind of the change roughly a week ago. Taha didn’t get any extra notice.

“The same [as everyone else],” he said of the time frame in which he found out about the opponent switch. Because of the time difference between Germany and Las Vegas, where his manager resides, “it was night, or the evening. I just got the message and I was like ‘yeah, let’s go!”

With such a short window, Taha hasn’t really had time to adjust to his new opponent. Luckily, he sees similarities between Shore and Barcelos.

“I didn’t change [my game plan] a lot, because they are quite the same. They are both black belts, like to go to the ground, like to take their opponents down, like to take the center of the cage,” he stated. It’s a good thing they are so similar, as Taha pointed out that “I’m never preparing that quickly for an opponent.”

As for what he hopes to gain from the fight, “I just want to go all in. I just want to show myself, and everybody else, that I deserve to be in the top 15,” Taha stated.

Watch the full UFC Vegas 13 virtual media day press scrum with Glover Teixeira above. The card takes place Saturday, November 7 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.