Los Angeles, CA — Somewhat unexpectedly, Dagestani fighter Gadzhi Rabadanov had the crowd behind him at Bellator 263 on Saturday.
Especially when he landed a crushing knockout blow on opponent Daniel Carey.
The support from American fans caught Rabadanov (16-4-2) off guard. “To be honest, I was surprised. I was very surprised, I was very happy when I saw all this crowd, all these people, especially when they were rooting for me,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight. “It definitely boosted my mood.”
It’s the first time in a while Rabadanov has competed in front of a live audience. “COVID flipped the world upside down, so it’s been a while since I was fighting in fight of a crowd. I’m very happy crowds are back, and it’s definitely a completely different experience fighting with a crowd,” he stated.
Opponent Carey, on the wrong end of that knockout blow, surprised the Russian with his strength. “He’s a very strong guy, very strong. One [kick], I have very bad bruise on my leg. Very strong guy,” said Rabadanov. With no update on Carey’s condition immediately following the fight, he added that “I want to say bless him and his family. We wish him a speedy recovery for sure.”
As to a return timeframe, Rabadanov says it doesn’t matter. “Maybe October, Moscow. I wait, if Bellator calls me, I’m ready. I don’t know, maybe next week. I’m ready, I’m here.” He doesn’t have any names in mind either, since as he pointed out, his Bellator 263 appearance was his first fight with the promotion. “It doesn’t matter. I want to smash everybody. Everybody, guys,” he exclaimed. “I’m here, I’m coming. I want to— will be champ.”
Rabadanov was part of a sizeable Russian contingent in action on Saturday. “I was very happy that four Russian fighters were on such a, I believe it’s one of the biggest Bellator cards this year for sure,” he stated, adding not just Russian, but Russian fighters from Dagestan. “And I was more happy that three of them were my teammates, guys who grew up together, trained together, we did the camp for these fights all together. So it definitely helped us.”
Watch the full Bellator 263 post-fight press conference with Gadzhi Rabadanov above.