Nurmagomedov: I want to be the UFC's first Muslim champion

Nurmagomedov possesses an impressive 24-0 professional record and is coming off of a brutal submission victory over Michael Johnson at last November's UFC 205 from New York City.

John Kavanagh has a prediction for the interim lightweight title bout.

"This belt, I consider it the real belt", Ferguson said at T-Mobile Arena.

While the UFC has received plenty of criticism recently about the rise in interim title fights, it's hard to argue with this particular decision.

Or at least, that's what Nurmagomedov would have you believe. As a fighter who is incredible stood up and very hard to take down, I feel he has the skill set required to hand "The Eagle" his first loss. I think Tony is better. He'd have to fight McGregor for that honor (unless The Notorious vacates the title).

Before the Alvarez-McGregor match-up was set in stone, Nurmagomedov said he had been sent a bout agreement to fight the American in NY.

"We have real fight now. Of course not. This Saturday I'm going to make it a 25-unbeaten win streak, take the belt and become the new, undisputed, undefeated champion and after we will see what happens".

Although the fight itself is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most intriguing match ups of the year, there is no question that Conor McGregor's shadow looms large over the contest and the promo below highlights this point exactly.

Chances are, he will, but if McGregor isn't planning on returning to the octagon until some time in 2018, it's likely that the UFC will simply turn the interim title into the full-time belt.

That would be perfectly fine with Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.

Training out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Nurmagomedov trains along side some of the UFC's best, his teammates include current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier, former UFC Heavyweight king Cain Velasquez and former Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

But, people want to know who is the real fighter, who is the top-level fighter.

Over the past couple of years, the UFC has walked a fine line between maintaining its presence as a company built on high-level competition, and one that often finds itself catering to entertainment. I don't like this guy too much, to be honest, but we have to give him respect for his game. The 33 year-old's submission game also contains leg locks, which add variety to his ground game, and this makes him a very risky foe no matter where the fight ends up.

That hasn't gone unnoticed by the veterans of the division.

"I have to fight Tony Ferguson before I get this fight".

I don't like watch movie about love. The way he has taken the UFC by storm means that guys like Overeem are suddently lobbying the UFC bosses for a shot at him. According to FoxSports, Nurmagomedov referred to the McGregor vs Alvarez fight as fake. "I know the fight's going to come, and I can't wait". All eyes should be on Rashad Evans at Friday morning's weigh-ins. Alex Ovechkin sent out a video encouraging Nurmagomedov on Thursday morning, but when he was asked about it on Thursday afternoon, Nurmagomedov was completely oblivious to his fellow Russian's message.

  • Julie Sanders