Los Angeles, CA — Islam Mamedov spent a month training in his native Dagestan prior to heading to San Jose to finish preparation for his Bellator debut this weekend.
The lightweight, considered by many to be one of the best outside the major promotions prior to signing with Scott Coker’s organization, is a former PFL standout, with a 19-1-1 record. This Saturday at Bellator 263, he faces former lightweight champion Brent Primus.
Why Bellator, when seemingly any promotion was a possibility? Mamedov made that clear during this week’s Bellator 263 media day. “Because Bellator gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So I took it.”
When it comes to promotional debuts, you can’t do much better than fighting a former champion. Primus himself has been less than enthused with the match-up, venting throughout Fight Week about wanting to fight a ranked opponent. Mamedov, not surprisingly, is quite pleased with the pairing. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” he stated. “Of course I’m happy they gave me the former champ.”
Mamedov trains alongside the likes of Islam Makhachev and Usman Nurmagomedov, who he shares the Bellator 263 card with this Saturday. Training alongside that level of talent, with all of them in action over a short span, “of course it helps a lot, it helps to improve you, because you’re training with the best fighters in the world,” said Mamedov. “It’s impossible not to improve. So it helps me in my preparation, also it helps me in the fight.”
Asked about the possibility of fighting Usman Nurmagomedov in Bellator, given they share a weight class, the 31-year old dismissed the idea. Although they go at it in training, “in the cage, no way, it’s not going to happen,” Mamedov said. “He’s like my little brother.”
Watch the full Bellator 263 media day press scrum with Islam Mamedov above. The event takes place this Saturday, July 31 at The Forum in Los Angeles. The main card airs on Showtime following online prelims right here on Cageside Press.