Tofiq Musayev wasted no time letting the Bellator lightweight roster know he meant business.
In July 2022, Musayev (20-4) made his promotional debut filling in for the then-champion Patricky “Pitbull” Freire against would-be challenger, Sydney Outlaw. Unfortunately for Outlaw, his willingness to risk his title shot backfired as the former RIZIN lightweight grand prix winner sliced through him in just 27 seconds to score a massive rebound knockout win.
The win launched Musayev directly to No. 2 in Bellator’s official 155-pound rankings, leading many to believe he’d earned the title shot by defeating the man who was originally scheduled to challenge for the strap. Instead, Musayev was put on the back burner for undefeated rising Russian star Usman Nurmagomedov this past November.
“As a fighter, obviously, it made me a little upset because, in my opinion, I think I was deserving it,” Musayev told MMA Mania on BROADENED HORIZIN. “I should have fought for the title beating the No. 1 contender, that brings me to the title fight next, in my opinion. He knows himself that there were many other fighters who deserve this shot more than he (Nurmagomedov) did, but I think everyone knows the politics of the game and everyone understands the rules of the game. So, it is what it is.
“I’d love to fight him (Nurmagomedov) for the belt. I’m ready to fight him any time. I’ve been calling him out before as well. Even when I beat Sydney Outlaw, Patricky Pitbull tweeted on Twitter that, ‘I know who the next opponent is.’ We had a history together, so I think he was ready to fight me for the rematch. But it is what it is, whatever happened happened. I’m ready to fight him anytime.”
Musayev, 33, defeated Pitbull at the end of 2019 to win the aforementioned RIZIN grand prix, making the story and possible rematch all the more interesting. Nurmagomedov, however, wound up becoming the man to dethrone Pitbull, winning a unanimous decision in their Bellator 288 encounter.
On March 10, Musayev enters yet another tournament where he’ll look to overcome seven other men and be crowned the new lightweight champion. First, he’ll need to get through Alexandr Shabliy at Bellator 292 in San Jose, California.
“I respect all the guys there, all the opponents,” Musayev said. “To me, it doesn’t matter who is the opponent, I’m going to go up and show out. To me, it’s always to finish the things earlier than we have planned. So, that’s what my priority is.”
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