Shavkat Rakhmonov is ready for a step up in competition and some bigger names as he begins pushing towards title contention in the UFC.
Fresh off of his second-round submission win over Neil Magny on Saturday, the undefeated welterweight wasted no time looking ahead with several opponents who interest him as he look to build on his perfect 16-0 record (with all 16 of those wins ending by knockout or submission).
“As always, I’m not going to rush,” Rakhmonov said via a translator about the timing of his next fight when speaking at the UFC Vegas 57 post-fight press conference.
“Wonderboy” was actually the first name he mentioned in his post-fight interview after wrapping up a guillotine choke to tap out Magny with just two seconds remaining in the second round.
It was another dominant showcase for Rakhmonov, who was in complete control throughout the fight before locking on the submission to keep his finish streak intact.
“Neil is a good opponent,” Rakhmonov said. “That’s why I wasn’t forcing the action. I wasn’t rushing. Just was waiting for him to make a mistake and to catch him.
“I had a good grip [on the guillotine choke]. I was confident in it. But since it was so little time left, I was expecting Neil to defend it. But maybe after two rounds of beating he didn’t want to continue. Usually with this grip, I need seven or eight seconds to put someone to sleep.”
Following the win, Rakhmonov was also asked about a potential fight against Sean Brady as he continues to await word on his next opponent, who has also been calling out several top-ranked welterweights in recent weeks.
“He’s very good,” Rakhmonov said about Brady. “He’s a very good fighter, also undefeated I think. His time will come and we will face each other. It’s up to the UFC.”
With a 4-0 record in the UFC, Rakhmonov will undoubtedly make his biggest jump up the welterweight ladder — he entered Saturday’s event tied for the No. 13 spot in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — following a win over an established contender like Magny, although he’s still gaining traction with fans who may not recognize him as much quite yet.
While he’s quietly put together an impressive resume, the 27-year-old Kazakh fighter hasn’t received nearly as much hype as Khamzat Chimaev, another undefeated welterweight on the roster.
None of that seems to bother Rakhmonov as he brushed off a question about Chimaev while putting his full faith in the UFC to decide when and how he gets pushed.
“It’s up to Dana White [how to promote me],” Rakhmonov said.
With three undefeated fighters — Rakhmonov, Chimaev and Brady — all creeping up towards the top of the welterweight division, the UFC president has an embarrassment of riches on his hands as he starts looking ahead at 2022 and beyond.