Coming off a disappointing loss on Dana White’s Contender Series, Khadzhi Bastaev made his promotional debut at Bellator 264 a memorable one.
While the promotion doesn’t hand out post-fight bonuses, something Bastaev made note of following his win, his battle with Hawaii’s Ty Gwerder was Fight of the Night material.
Improving to 11-4 with the victory, Bastaev admitted to having thoughts of quitting during a difficult opening round.
“To be honest, after throwing the head kick, I think he question mark kicked me. And because my last fight was in September of 2020, I’m like— you can be tough in the gym, but a fight is a fight, it’s a different vibe. I was trying to take all the bullsh*t from my head. After he kicked me, I’m like ‘I think it’s time to give up,'” Bastev admitted following his unanimous decision victory. “And then I’m staying. I’m like ‘okay, I’m going to keep going.’ Then another punch, 1-2. Like f*ck. It hurt. I’m sorry for my language. It hurt.” Again, Bastaev had thoughts of quitting on the fight, but he heard his corner urging him on. “Three minutes, two minutes.”
Bastaev told himself, make it through at least one round. In the end, he went all three. “I knew he was going to start gassing out after the second and third round. I’m still surprised with the decision, I felt it was like a draw or split decision. But I didn’t see the fight. I have to see it. But in my head, he kicked and punched me so many times. Hat’s off to him, he didn’t give up too.”
Like those watching at the Mohegan Sun Arena and at home, Bastaev was impressed with his opponent’s toughness. “Nobody gets away from my triangle. He got away three times,” he noted. And while Bastaev admits to not being a high-level BJJ guy, “it means something.”
With his debut successful, the middleweight is now looking ahead to a possible fall return. “If Bellator needs me here, I’m gonna be here. Or, they have a next show in Moscow,” said Bastaev, adding that if the promotion needs someone in his weight class, he’s on board. “I wasn’t home for 13 years, I would love to fight in front of my people,” he added. “I can represent Russia, U.S.A. I’m a citizen of both countries, so I’m proud to represent anyone. If Bellator needs me, I’m going to try to put on a show like this.”
Watch the full Bellator 264 post-fight press conference with Khadzhi Bastaev above.