Representative of the Parisian MMA Factory, Nassourdine Imavov will expertise his second combat at the UFC this weekend in Las Vegas throughout a UFC Fight Night (dwell and completely from 2am on the evening from Saturday to Sunday on RMC Sport 1). After a profitable begin in the American group, the Franco-Daghestanais faces the problem of the harmful Phil Hawes, introduced favourite, in the center. The alternative to higher uncover his profession and his ambitions. Interview.
Nassourdine, how do you are feeling earlier than this second combat in the UFC? Ready to tackle this new problem?
Definitely. I really feel prepared like by no means earlier than. The combat was postponed, because it was first scheduled to happen in January earlier than being postponed to February. So I had extra time for my preparation and now I really feel extra prepared than ever.
There is a “hype” that accompanies your opponent, Phil Hawes, a spectacular fighter who has the identical file as you in profession (9-2). Does it provide you with much more to derail that “hype” to take him?
Yes completely. In this combat, I’m an underdog, I’m given the loser, and that is what motivates me lots. By profitable this combat, I do know that I’ve lots to achieve, that I could make myself identified a bit extra. Suddenly, I’m much more motivated.
What do you assume can be the key to this combat?
I feel it’ll be performed whereas standing, in putting. He will of course attempt to take me to the floor however we now have labored very nicely on the gameplan and I feel the combat can be in putting. This is what viewers love.
Of 9 profession victories, seven had been obtained in the first spherical. How do you clarify that? Is this the image of your nickname, “Russian Sniper”?
I have no idea. There is no actual rationalization. I’m going into battle and after I see a very good alternative, I’m going for it. But I’m able to go three rounds, I all the time put together for that, to make wars, however when the opponents do not observe, it ends earlier than. (Smile.) But I’m prepared for all three rounds and it is not likely a purpose to complete the combat earlier than.
We need to know extra about your profession. How outdated had been you in France and why did your loved ones depart Dagestan to come back right here?
I arrived at 9 in France, in the south, in Marseille after which we moved to Salon-de-Provence. Why did we come? I do not know the story completely so I’ll keep away from speaking about it. I must discuss to my father to be taught extra about the story.
How did you come to MMA?
When I used to be in Dagestan, like all younger individuals, I struggled a bit. Not essentially in a membership room as a result of we did that with mates, exterior, it was our means of taking part in. And as soon as in France, my father in a short time enrolled me in boxing as a result of he appreciated it. I did a couple of years and over time, I found MMA and I shortly hooked. I noticed that you might field and combat at the identical time and that is what introduced me to this self-discipline. I began in the south of France, in Salon-de-Provence, fifty kilometers from Marseille, I skilled for a couple of years and I did two fights nevertheless it was a bit sophisticated then with my brother Daguir, We determined to take it to the subsequent degree and in a single day, we took the baggage, the automobile, and headed for the MMA Factory in Paris. It was in 2016.
Did you instantly really feel that this selection was the proper one and that this was the place you’d make the best progress?
Yes of course. There are sparring companions, bodily trainers, it’s extremely skilled, every little thing is very supervised. We shortly noticed progress and we knew we had been in the proper place.
You end lots of your fights standing up and are identified on your putting. Is wrestling, which you practiced if you had been younger, your hidden weapon?
Exactly. Wrestling is crucial in MMA. It is the #1 self-discipline on this sport, the place it is crucial to know the best way to combat. And we’ve not seen my battle but. But that is good as a result of the opponent who arrives is a wrestler. With this combat, we are going to uncover that I can even combat and that I’m fairly full.
Does this custom of wrestling in Dagestan clarify the spectacular quantity of top-level Dagestanese fighters in MMA?
That’s it. Like I mentioned wrestling is #1 in MMA. This is what hurts. If you do not know the best way to combat, it is going to be very onerous. You can of course get by with out nevertheless it’s uncommon. The wrestlers have a bonus and this is what makes the energy of the Dagestanese fighters, which is why there are such a lot of Caucasians in the large organizations.
You fought fairly often in the welterweight however you went as much as the means in the UFC. Is it a closing selection and why this class rise? Were you shedding an excessive amount of energy and energy with an excessive amount of slicing?
We went regularly. At first, I used to be a bit mild on the means so it was dangerous to maneuver into this class. But with my workforce from the MMA Factory, we had already deliberate to maneuver into this class as a result of I used to be fairly younger after I fought in the welterweights and we knew that with age, I’d acquire weight, mass muscular. I additionally prefer to eat nicely so the means, I feel that is going to be my closing weight. I should still go up later however I can now not see myself reaching the welterweight restrict. Even if it is potential, I’m nicely inside the means and it is a workforce selection.
What do you are feeling you will have made the most progress on with Fernand Lopez since your arrival at the MMA Factory?
Fernand added extra to my putting. I got here from English boxing and I knew the best way to field however there have been particulars that I didn’t see and he introduced me lots. I see it right this moment as a result of I’m in the UFC. He made me perceive that MMA is not solely boxing or wrestling however a mix of every little thing and that you need to do MMA as a result of many are primarily based on boxing or on wrestling however you need to do each , be full. There is the timing too. Lots of issues.
Your profession exploded in 2019 with 4 wins in 4 fights, together with one in opposition to a former UFC (Jonathan Meunier) at Ares FC 1, which opened the doorways to the Contender Series and the UFC for you. But you additionally had a 3-2 file early in your profession. Did you will have any doubts about your capability to succeed and when did you are feeling the UFC might confide in you?
I’ve all the time believed in myself. There had been typically doubts, nevertheless it’s the identical for everybody and we must always not focus an excessive amount of on it. When I doubted, if it was night, I’d go to mattress and sleep. And if it was the day, I’d go to coaching with out pondering an excessive amount of. There are all the time doubts however I by no means stopped believing it and I knew that in the future or one other I used to be going to get there. It occurred sooner than anticipated and it is one thing big.
Was the purpose to make it into the UFC or is this step simply the starting in your thoughts?
Oh no, this is simply the starting. The UFC is a corporation like another. Getting in is good, however now you need to keep there. The purpose, even when it is nonetheless a bit far, is to take the UFC belt. You already should enter the prime 15 or the prime 10 however the belt is my dream.
The middleweight champion is unbeaten Israel Adesanya, who can even attempt to win the mild heavyweight belt in March. Is it a combat that makes you dream?
Of course. But what makes me dream is the belt. It would not matter who’s in entrance. The one with the belt, it is going to be my dream combat. But why not Adesanya, sure. (Smile.)
Do you will have position fashions since your beginnings in MMA, champions from whom you draw inspiration?
At first, sure. There had been lots of them. I appreciated Jon Jones, his distance administration, his fight intelligence. He impressed me lots. Afterwards, it was extra the strikers I used for instance as a result of my base is English boxing, putting, and I used them for instance.
Did somebody like Khabib Nurmagomedov, who comes from Dagestan such as you, encourage you too or not a lot as a result of your kinds are very totally different?
He conjures up me, sure, however not solely as a fighter. She is an expert in the cage but additionally exterior the cage. His manners, his thoughts, he by no means lets go. He conjures up me on all of that too, however he isn’t the fighter I watch the most.
Your large brother, Daguir, is additionally an MMA Factory fighter. What does it do so that you can share all of this with him?
Daguir brings me lots. He motivates me lots. At one level, we lived in the identical condo and we all the time went to the health club collectively. When there have been instances after I was drained, after I did not really feel prefer it, I had no selection as a result of he was there to push me. And conversely, even when it was extra I who wanted him as a result of it was extra I who was lazy. (Smile.) It’s big and really motivating to have him with me.
In an outdated interview, you puzzled what it was prefer to be in the UFC. And now that it is carried out, then? What are your first impressions of this group?
The UFC is an enormous group. It’s actually big. I’m not too shocked by the cameras and all that as a result of I used to be visualizing it. As quickly as I began MMA, it was spinning in my head, I imagined myself coming into the UFC cage. And now that I’m there, I shortly bought used to it. I’ve been there barely six months, however I really feel like I’ve been there for a really very long time.
Your arrival at the UFC additionally coincides with the legalization of MMA in France. How does it really feel to say to your self that you might quickly combat in a French room for the UFC?
It’s superior, sure. It is a dream to combat in France in entrance of his viewers and his household. I hope it is going to be carried out quickly.
When we see you in an interview, we now have the impression of a relaxed, virtually shy Nassourdine. Do you say to your self that it’ll take a bit change to reach the UFC, the place you additionally should know the best way to “sell” at the microphone? And are you engaged on this?
I do know we must make progress on this, of course. At this degree, this sport is not nearly entering into the cage and preventing. There are the interviews, the media, it is all half of the job. It’s our job so we now have to work on it and that is what I do. With Fernand Lopez, we typically make updates on this. I do know it is crucial however I feel I’m progressing little by little. Before, it was a catastrophe. (To snigger.) There, I’m doing a bit higher.
You do not appear nervous earlier than your fights. Is it pure for you or is it working at the MMA Factory that offers you that confidence?
It’s largely preparation when it is going nicely, and that is all the time the case at MMA Factory. When you placed on the gloves for sparring with Ciryl Gane, John Caseneuil or Akhmed Salamov, if you get into the cage, you’ll be able to solely make certain of your self and decided. When you shoot with beasts like that in the health club, the fight is virtually simple.
How do you think about this 12 months 2021 at the UFC? Do you are feeling like preventing a quantity of instances? An goal in relation to the rating?
I think about doing as many fights as potential. I haven’t got a selected purpose however I need to combat as a lot as potential and what’s going to come will come. I’d additionally prefer to get into the prime 15 earlier than the finish of the 12 months.