Las Vegas, NV — Flyweight contender Askar Askarov features in what is widely considered to be the biggest fight of his career this weekend.
Paired up with perennial contender and multi-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez, Askarov (12-0-1) will be looking for his third straight win Saturday. But in his opinion, while the fight might be the biggest in terms of name value, Benavidez is not the toughest fighter Askarov has faced.
“So far in my career, I believe the best opponent I ever faced was [Alexandre] Pantoja,” Askarov stated during a virtual media day promoting UFC 259 this week. “Pantoja is the best, but if you’re talking about the more famous guy, yes, Benavidez is more famous.”
“If you ask me, I put Pantoja on a higher level [in terms of] a fighter’s skills. He’s in his prime right now,” Askarov added.
When it comes to Benavidez, the Russian fighter has but one goal: get to the title. Of course, that necessitates overcoming Joe B. first. “I’m looking forward to dominating the guy, to finishing him, and then the only thing I see is gold, a belt,” Askarov stated. One snag arrived Friday morning, however, when Askarov missed weight by a single pound.
Other than that, the only thing close to a blemish on Askar Askarov’s record came in his promotional debut with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. That fight, against Brandon Moreno, went to a draw. Of course, Moreno would go on to fight in an even higher profile draw against champ Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 256 back in December. Their rematch is expected later this year.
Askarov sees it going in favor of the challenger. “In the second fight, in the second match-up with Figueiredo-Moreno, I really believe Moreno is going to win this one,” predicted Askarov. “I know, because I fought Moreno in Mexico City. It was a really tough fight. We ended up in a draw. I felt the guy, I know what he’s capable of. As I see this fight coming, in the rematch, Brandon Moreno is going to come out as the champion.”
Askarov might actually be rooting for Moreno for another reason. A chance to win the title from Moreno would mean a little bit more to the Russian fighter, given their history. “I would really love to have a rematch with Brandon Moreno,” he stated. “And if it’s going to be for the belt, it’s going to be double my pleasure for this fight.”
Askar Askarov faces Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259 this Saturday, March 6 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.