For a good number of combat sports athletes, the most stressful day of a training camp is the pre-fight weigh-in. For UFC newcomer Abus Magomedov, it’s the best birthday present ever.
“Yeah, exactly,” laughs Magomedov, who turns 32 the day before he makes the walk to the Octagon for the first time to face Dustin Stoltzfus in Paris. And while the possibility of a little bit of cake on Friday night is there, the middleweight prospect isn’t looking at this experience as fun and games.
“It's a little bit of pressure because it's why I worked all my life,” he said. “Now I'm here and now I have to show.”
It’s an interesting place for him to be in, because despite having over 12 years in the pro game under his belt, during which he compiled a 24-4-1 record, at Accor Arena on Saturday, he’ll be the “new guy,” something he’s gotten used to.
“It's nothing new for me because before it was also like 'Oh the new guy,' but after the debut, they will think different,” he said.
That record doesn’t lie, and it’s why on a card with seven fighters making their UFC debuts, Magomedov is the one receiving the bulk of the attention, even with him not being French. But as a resident of Dusseldorf, he is close enough to have plenty of family and friends in attendance for the UFC’s first visit to France.
“My fans will be there and it's much better for me,” he said. “It's almost in Germany - three, four hours from our city, and I also have a lot of friends here in France. It's good for me because the last fight in Europe, it was three, four years ago, and now a lot of friends and family can also be here with me.”
And despite being born in Argun, Russia, Magomedov has called Germany home since he was a teenager.
“I am almost German,” he laughs, but he’s not exaggerating.
“I was a child when I came to Germany,” he said. “I was 15 years old, and my brothers, father, mother, they are also in Germany. So it was not so hard because everybody was there. In the beginning, it was, but now it's like my home.”
It was where he kicked off his pro career in 2010, and after going 19-3 on the regional circuit, he got a call from the PFL in 2018 and compiled a 3-1-1 record there before winning a pair of fights in 2019 and 2020. All the while, he waited to hear from the UFC.
“Of course, because this is the end level,” he said. “There's nothing more than the UFC. It's like the Olympics for me, personally. It's like the Champions League - all the best fighters are there.
So, it's hard when you see all the guys fight there and you think why you cannot fight there. I know what I can do, I know I have the skills and everything for this. In the beginning it was hard, but now I can show the people.”
Unfortunately, after getting signed to the UFC, he saw one fight in 2021 and two in 2022 scrapped, delaying his debut until now.
“It was hard, but I knew that my chance will come and because of this I was always working and now it's time,” he said. “Of course, it's hard and it's not easy always to be prepared, but now it's time.”
Prepared might be an understatement considering that he’s basically been in a year-long training camp. Magomedov disagrees.
“A year? No, for all my life,” he laughs, with coach Ivan Hippolyte interjecting that he wasn’t about to give his charge any long periods of time off.
“No breaks,” said Hippolyte.
“Maybe two, three days,” chuckles Magomedov, who is in good spirits before the biggest fight of his career. And why not? It’s his birthday, he’s likely in his physical prime, and he’s got the experience not too many UFC rookies can come close to. In other words, he’s ready to go.
“It's exactly what I feel and what I think, because now, nothing can surprise me,” he said. “I saw everything, I fought against almost everybody, and now it's my time. I am in my prime and I will smash them all.”
UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Tuivasa took place on September 3, 2022, live from the Accor Arena in Paris, France. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!