Las Vegas, Nevada — The worst possible hiccup occurred for Askar Askarov ahead of his UFC 259 battle with Joseph Benavidez this past weekend: he missed weight.
Coming in heavy on weigh-in day is something no fighter wants. Yet these things happen in MMA, where extreme weight cuts have become the norm. In just about any other circumstance, missing weight by a single pound might get a pass in the long run. But for Askarov, his bout with Joseph Benavidez on Saturday was seen as a chance to stake his claim for a title shot.
Missing weight was not a good start. Although winning a dominant decision likely made up for that, at least in part.
“First of all, I just want to bring my apologies for not making the weight limit at the weigh-ins,” Askarov said following the fight, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press during a post-fight press conference appearance. Apologizing to Joseph Benavidez directly as well, Askarov explained that “there was some miscalculation during the training camp. I’ll do my best, it won’t happen ever in future.”
Regardless of the weight flub, Askarov (13-0-1) remained upbeat after the win. “I’m happy, I’m happy to pass over such a big name in the division. That was good experience for me, because I see my next fight as a title fight,” he said.
After the victory, still in the octagon, Askarov made it clear that his goal was the belt. And he’s not worried about any other names that turn up in the mix while champ Deiveson Figueiredo and number one contender Brandon Moreno prepare for their rematch later this year.
“Main thing, I want to fight for this belt. When I get the belt, and after that, it doesn’t matter who’s going to come,” said Askarov. “[Cody] Garbrandt’s going to come, [Daniel] Cormier’s going to come to this division, [Henry] Cejudos’ going to come back— I can fight with all of them. But the first thing for me that I see, the goal is the belt.”
Watch the full UFC 259 post-fight press conference with Askar Askarov above.