UFC lightweight Mairbek Taisumov is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, but doesn’t own a victory over a ranked lightweight. Taisumov has patiently waited for a step up in competition, eager to climb the ladder, but that step up hasn’t come yet, and he’s just as shocked as everyone else.
“I think that all UFC fighters are elite from around the world,” Taisumov told BloodyElbow.com. “But I'm a little bit surprised, because I really hoped to get one of the top 10 contenders. After last four TKO wins, I deserved it, I think.”
Taisumov’s next opponent, Nik Lentz, will arguably be the biggest name he has fought to date. But a win over him still likely wouldn’t move the Russian up and into the stacked lightweight rankings because Lentz only recently moved up to the division from featherweight, where he was once a ranked contender.
Taisumov wants to fight a high-level opponent and skyrocket through the lightweight rankings. He doesn't just want to work his way to the title and more money, he wants to prove to fans, media members and the UFC brass he is a top contender.
“That's my goal,” he continued. “I like to fight; I like to fight the best fighters. If you want to become an ‘elite fighter’ you got to fight elite (fighters). I want to get a champions belt — top 10 is the road to a title fight.”
Prior to Taisumov’s last fight in Rotterdam two months ago, he was pulled from a matchup against Chris Wade at UFC Fight Night 81 in Boston due to visa issues. The 27-year-old is confident he won’t run into troubles on his end leading up to his fight in October, which takes place in Cleveland, Ohio.
“I did everything I had to clear it up, now we'll see,” he said. “It depends on the UFC organization and USA. I hope it will work and you, like all UFC fans, are gonna see me in the Octagon in Cleveland.”
Taisumov was scheduled to fight top lightweight Beneil Dariush before Wade filled in on short notice. With that being a matchup that would definitely crack Taisumov into the top 15, he’s still very interested in fighting Dariush in the near future.
“Dariush is one the best in my division,” he said. “That would be very interesting fight. Beneil has good BJJ skills but he also is a good striker. I think it would be an awesome show and the fans would love it.”
With an overload of Muslim fighters on the UFC roster, Ramadan has been a hot topic throughout the MMA community recently. Some Muslim fighters choose to train and compete during Ramadan, but the majority do not, as Ramadan is a time of fast, rest, and relaxation. If offered a fight during Ramadan, which concluded on Tuesday with Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday, Taisumov, who openly practices Islam, would likely decline.
“It depends on the person,” he said. “It is very difficult to train [during] Ramadan and give 100 percent. I wouldn't like to fight during Ramadan. We train our body, but we also have to train our spirit. The holy month charges us with positive and powerful energy.”
As far as his upcoming matchup with Lentz goes, Taisumov is ready for anything and plans to show-off everything he has to offer, in hopes to receive a huge step up in competition in his next outing afterwards.
“I always prepare myself for all three rounds,” he said. “I will give my best and may God let me win this time too. I'm focused on winning and I'm looking forward to getting into the top 10 UFC rankings.”