Las Vegas, NV – UFC welterweight Shavkat Rakhmonov is not looking at his opponent’s age to gauge what he will be able to do against him when he faces Stephen Thompson at UFC 296 on Saturday night.
“Thompson is a great fighter. If you don’t look at his age he showed his level that he’s a top fighter,” Rakhmonov told reporters including Cageside Press through a translator on Wednesday.
“That’s why I’m excited for this matchup.”
Rakhmonov was supposed to face Kelvin Gastelum in September. An injury to Gastelum forced him out of the fight and the bout was scrapped.
“I was upset that my opponent got (injured), but it’s a sport and I look at it with understanding. I wasn’t trying to think too much. I was just focused on the training and I was hoping that UFC (would) find opponent for me,” he said.
Luckily for him Thompson was willing to take the fight seeing that Rakhmonov holds the #5 ranking in the division.
“Stephen Thompson (has) a tricky style. I had to adapt to the this karate-like style. Some of my training partners were imitating him and I believe I’m ready for the fight,” he said.
Rakhmonov comes into UFC 296 undefeated with a 5-fight UFC win streak. With fighters turning down fights with him a win over Thompson could put Rakhmonov in a title fight next.
“I believe I’m very close to the title shot. I just need to win,” said Rakhmonov.
Watch the entire media day scrum with Shavkat Rakhmonov above. He takes on Stephen Thompson at UFC 296.