Magomed Ankalaev notched the biggest win on his record last night with an, albeit timid, victory over Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC Vegas 50. The unanimous decision win gave the Dagestani his eighth win in a row.
With his name likely to bounce up the UFC light heavyweight standings, Ankalaev made it clear—during the post-fight press conference—that he sees himself as the next title contender in the division.
“In my opinion, I deserve the title shot next,” he said (ht MMA Fighting). “Because I am on an eight-fight winning streak and some of the fights I finished the guys, and I feel I’m ready.”
During the presser Ankalaev also made it clear that he has no interest in taking a fight with Anthony Smith, who was reportedly offered a fight with him before that spot was taken by Santos.
“As you know, Anthony Smith was offered to fight me before and he wasn’t interested, as I have said. Now I’m looking forward to get the title shot next. I believe I deserve it.”
Smith quickly responded to those claims. He said the fight was on the table, but he had to turn it down due to a staph infection.
“I’m healthy now,” said ‘Lionheart’. “I’ve been begging for a fight. I think me and the UFC have been waiting for this match-up to happen to see how it unfolds. I guess I do apologize for getting staph infection.”
“May or June, I’m ready,” he continued. “I’m begging for a fight. I’ve just been waiting to see what happens here.”
Ankalaev joined the UFC in 2018. In his debut he pummelled Paul Craig for three rounds before losing by triangle choke in the last second of the contest. His division leading win-streak started immediately after that.
During his current run he has beaten Ion Cutelaba, Nikita Krylov, and Volkan Oezdemir. The loss to Craig is the only blemish on his 17-1 career.
The UFC’s light heavyweight title is due to be contested at UFC 274 on May 7 with champion Glover Teixeira defending against challenger Jiri Prochazka.