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Bloody Elbow caught up with Rustam Khabilov at Legacy FC in Albuquerque last Friday. The Dagestani lightweight faces former champ Benson Henderson in the main event of Ultimate Fight Night: Khabilov vs Henderson, on June 7 in Albuquerque. Khabilov, through a Kazakhstani interpreter named Tim, discussed how he matches up with Henderson, who is the better wrestler, and why he's excited to fight in his new home town. He also addresses a topic of international intrigue and import that has been the subject of much speculation as of late: where in the world is UFC welterweight and Jackson/Winkeljohn teammate Adlan Amagov?
Note to the extra-nerdy: At the beginning of the interview you can hear Holly Holm's victory speech and the cheers it brought. The subsequent noise are a handful of post-main event fights.
And a call-out to any Russian speakers who might add further nuance to whichever parts of this interview may have been lost in translation.
On fighting in Albuquerque
"I'm very excited about having this fight here in Albuquerque because I've been living here for a while and just started feeling like I'm at home, like I'm native to Albuquerque."
On how he matches up with Henderson
"We will see whose wrestling game is better. Yeah, he's a good wrestler. But I come from a wrestling background also.
"Everybody thinks that it's an easy fight (for Henderson), but you never can predict the fight. You have to follow it and see what happens.
"I asked for that fight. I asked for Ben Henderson, and I was super-stoked and excited when I found out that I'm getting Ben Henderson. Because I had asked for it. If he thinks, and if people think, that it's gonna be an easy fight, then we'll have to see what happens when it comes to fight."
Ben is famous for taking people down. You've also developed a reputation for picking people up and slamming them on their heads. Who get's their way?
Ben Henderson is a really good fighter, in almost every aspect. Grappling, striking, takedowns. [I] have a plan. [I] just want to accomplish that. [I've] been spending a lot of time training for this fight, and [am] close to [my] goal, which is hopefully after this fight will be a title shot.
Your teammate Adlan Amagov seems to be missing, and everyone is wondering where he is. There are rumors that he quit fighting for religious reasons, or that he's a terrorist. Are you in touch with Amagov and can you set the record straight?
He's a friend yes. Adlan Amagov actually is living in Moscow right now. Whoever thinks that Adlan Amagov is a terrorist, they are just making a fool out of themselves and they are just idiots.
[I] did see Adlan the last time [I] went to Moscow. Everything is fine with him. He's healthy. If he wants to come back he will. If he doesn't, he won't. It's his own choice. Honestly nobody will know if he's coming back or not.
There is also talk that he's a bodyguard, taking care of some rich person somewhere. Can you comment if that's true?
No that's not true at all. If it was true I would have heard it. Adlan Amagov is literally spending time with his family. That's what it is. He has a little kid and a wife also and he's spending time with his family. Honestly, I know that he doesn't have a job right now, so we really don't know what he's doing.
He doesn't have a job?
Was he cut by the UFC?
No, he didn't get cut by the UFC. He just left by his own...reasons. Probably because of the family though, that's what we're thinking."
Back to Ben Henderson: How do you see it ending here in Albuquerque on June 7.
I'm not a magician. I don't know what's going to happen. We'll see what happens in the octagon. In the cage we will show it.