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Shavkat Rakhmonov: UFC on ESPN 38 fight vs. Neil Magny will show ‘I’m the future UFC champion’

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LAS VEGAS – Shavkat Rakhmonov thinks he’s going to have his coming out party as a welterweight contender on Saturday at UFC on ESPN 38.

Rakhmonov (15-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will get his most notable opponent to date when he meets longtime divisional standout Neil Magny (26-8 MMA, 19-7 UFC) in a co-main event fight at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2, and represents a big opportunity for the undefeated fighter from Kazakhstan.

Thus far in his career, Rakhmonov has never lost a fight and has finished every opponent inside the distance. He knows Magny is a tough out, but he thinks this matchup will allow him to shine.

“He’s a good opponent, a good test for me,” Rakhmonov said through an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 38 media day. “I’m ready to show I’m better than him and I’m ready to show that I’m better than anyone in the division. … I believe I deserve more attention. God willing, I’m the future UFC champion. Time will show it.”

Rakhmonov predicted he will hold gold within the next 18 to 24 months. He knows the 170-pound weight class, which is currently ruled by Kamaru Usman, is a shark tank filled with some of the best fighters in the sport.

That’s why it’s important for Rakhmonov to take his career one step at a time. He said he’s going to give it his all to put Magny away inside the scheduled three rounds and continue his stoppage streak, but he won’t be upset if he’s forced to go the distance for the first time given his quality of opponent.

“My goal is always to get the win,” Rakhmonov said. “It doesn’t matter how. Just for the judges or referee to raise my hand. Whatever it takes. … I think full distance is not a problem for me. Most important is to get the win. It doesn’t matter how.”

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UFC on ESPN 38 pre-event facts: Neil Magny can break Georges St-Pierre's record