Fresh of a yearlong suspension for performance enhancing substances, Ali Bagautinov is keen to move from the darkest day of his professional career.
The Russian flyweight is scheduled to face Joseph Benavidez, a remarkably difficult test for a fighter who has been absent from the Octagon for well over 12 months. However, he remains confident that it is a step in the right direction.
"I am absolutely confident in his ability to fight," Bagautinov told allboxing.ru. "He is quite good on the ground, but I am sure that isn't where he wants the fight to go. I'm well prepared for the fight on the ground. His main chance to win is just that I have not fought in a while. This may play a role, but I do not think it is very significant. I am confident in victory."
Although Benavidez is the No. 2 ranked flyweight in the division, Bagautinov does not expect the UFC to offer him a title shot in the near future.
"It is unlikely that the UFC would give me a title fight. But who knows. I can say that I'm not too eager to run ahead of the engine and claim the title. In case of a victory over Benavidez, I will not tear my shirt and scream "Give me Demetrious! ' I will gradually recover my position. The division now has a lot of competition, like Formiga. I'll move to the title gradually.
"Right now, I just want to fight."
The Dagestani fighter also has other opportunities lined up in his future. Recently, it was announced that Bagautinov had been elected as a member of the Public Chamber of the Republic of Dagestan. The Public Chamber was established by the Russian Federation in 2005 serve as a medium between citizen interaction with state authorities and local governments to "take into account the needs and interests of citizens, protect their rights and freedoms in the formation and implementation of public policies, as well as for the implementation of public control over the activities of the authorities."
While he remains excited about the prospect of entering the realm of politics, Bagautinov revealed that he still has a few more years of fighting left in him before he dons the suit and tie.
"I have long been thinking of a political career being more embedded in political orientation. I will likely fight for 3-4 more years, but then will begin to move into the political mainstream and deal with this area of activity."