Bryan Barberena: Request to fight Shavkat Rakhmonov shut down despite mutual interest

Bryan Barberena’s name is not on the table for a potential fight with Shavkat Rakhmonov.

Barberena (18-9 MMA, 9-7 UFC) posted on Instagram on Friday to say his request to step in on short notice to fight Rakhmonov (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 217 on Jan. 14 was shut down.

Rakhmonov originally was scheduled to fight top contender Geoff Neal, but a Neal injury canceled the bout, it was reported Thursday. Barberena quickly campaigned for the bout and began to get support from the fan base online. Rakhmonov himself also liked the idea, as he agreed to the bout on Twitter.

“I have been informed that I will not get the fight with Shavkat,” Barberena wrote. “I know I don’t deserve it, especially after my last showing, but I’ve had 2 other great showings this year and every fight you go into is different. I know I’m a very dangerous individual, and I truly believe I can beat Shavkat and give the fans a fight they want to see. But it’s completely up to the UFC if the fight happens.

“I appreciate all those in support of me getting the fight, even Shavkat himself. For those against it, cool, but you still don’t get to see your boy fight. No one wants to fight Shavkat, but I’m willing to step in on short notice, and we both agreed to meet January 14. Shit, I’d fight him tomorrow if they wanted.

“Respect to Shavkat for agreeing on the fight even with the number next to his name & myself coming off the loss. Whatever happens, I look forward to stepping back in that octagon in 2023 and reminding you what I’m all about.”


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Barberena, 33, is coming off a submission loss to former UFC champ Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 42 earlier this month. The result snapped a three-fight winning streak that included a TKO of Robbie Lawler and decisions over Matt Brown and Darian Weeks.

Rakhmonov, 28, has finished all four of his octagon opponents so far, including notables Neil Magny and Alex Oliveira.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie