LAS VEGAS – Shavkat Rakhmonov feels his chance to fight for UFC gold is near.
The rising UFC welterweight contender believes a win in his return to the octagon could put him very close to earning a UFC title shot. Rakhmonov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) takes on Geoff Neal this Saturday at UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena. It’s a big welterweight bout that’ll go down on the pay-per-view main card of the event.
Rakhmonov feels that if he beats Neal (15-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC), he’ll need a couple of wins at most to get himself a chance to fight for the championship belt.
“After this fight, maybe one or maximum two fights to fight for the title,” Rakhmonov told reporters at the UFC 285 media day on Wednesday.
Both Rakhmonov and Neal were previously scheduled to fight in January in the UFC’s first card of 2023. Unfortunately, Neal suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw. Rakhmonov insisted on keeping the matchup, and he got his wish. It’s a simple reason why Rakhmonov wanted to fight Neal.
“He’s just higher in the rankings than me,” Rakhmonov said when asked why he asked for the fight. “He’s a good fighter, a good striker, and we’re going to check his skills and see how he’s going to approach the fight with me.”
Neal told the media on Wednesday that he felt overlooked, as he’s one of the biggest underdogs of the card. Rakhmonov believes he should be the rightful favorite and will prove that on Saturday.
“The fight will show,” Rakhmonov said. “I believe I’m favorite and I’m favorite for a reason. I’m undefeated, and I finished all of my opponents.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 285.