Heavy-handed welterweight Adlan Amagov is gearing up for a welterweight scrap with talented jiu-jitsu ace TJ Waldburger at UFC 166, but if his team is worried about the matchup, they certainly aren't saying so.
"TJ is a great fighter, a well-accomplished BJJ practitioner who will surely want to take it to the ground," Sam Kardan, the manager of the Russian-based Red Fury Fight Team, told Bleacher Report.
"Adlan is a pretty good grappler too though, [he has] good freestyle wrestling and comes from an extensive Sambo background ... "This fight is a chance for Adlan to show himself on the ground, but I think his striking is well above [what TJ has to offer]."
For the sake of comparison, Waldburger enters the October 19 showdown with a 16-7 overall record, with the BJJ brown belt notching 13 of those wins via submission—showcasing a crafty guard in most of his fights.
On the other hand, Amagov boasts a 12-2-1 mark through 15 professional fights, with seven of those wins coming by way of knockout.
The 27-year-old striker made his Octagon, as well as his welterweight, debut at UFC on FUEL 9 in April, winning a convincing decision over fellow Strikeforce import Chris Spang.
Worth noting is that Amagov fought the first 10 bouts of his career at light heavyweight, though Kardan explains that statistic is a bit misleading when considering how heavy his client actually is.
"He did really well at light heavyweight, but Adlan was always underweight. Fighting at 205, he would weigh in [at] maybe 190 [pounds]. He was always much lighter than the light heavyweight limit," Kardan stated.
When he was signed to Strikeforce in mid-2011, Amagov cut down to middleweight, posting a 3-1 mark at that weight class, with his sole blemish being a TKO to current welterweight contender Robbie Lawler.
"He felt very comfortable at middleweight: quick, powerful. But after hanging out with guys like Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva that we’ve got to meet and know, Adlan got to see how much bigger those guys are than him. So we decided a drop to welterweight made a lot of sense."
Kardan believes that one of his team's highest regarded prospects will live up to his expectations at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, predicting that Amagov will score his second TKO win in his past three fights.
While the manager admits Amagov could be as far as "three or four wins from making it into the top 10," he believes a victory over a dangerous opponent like Waldburger "solidifies his position in the UFC."
Not surprisingly, Kardan believes "The Wolf" will make it to that point and beyond inside the Octagon.
"I strongly believe he is going to be a UFC champion in whatever weight class he decides to stick with ... though I think we'll probably stay at welterweight," noting that he expects Amagov to make the welterweight limit with no problem next Saturday.
When asked where Amagov's nickname came from, Kardan gave an answer that was both candid and in-depth.
"We were trying to figure out a nickname when he first got her to the US, [since] all these fighters have weird Russian names that nobody can pronounce," Kardan recalled.
"Adlan is a Chechen, so the Chechens, they have the wolf as a sacred animal to them ... they have a heritage with the wolf, a very highly regarded connection to the animal. It means a lot to him and all the other Chechens who support him, so it made a lot of sense."
Don't be surprised if some fans chant "Borz" during Amagov's upcoming bout though, as that means "wolf" in Chechen.
Should Amagov get his hand raised against Waldburger, Amina Isakova, the Vice President of the Red Fury Fight Team, would like to see "one of the faces of our team" fight at the UFC 169 event in Newark, New Jersey, due to the strong ties the Russian community has in northern New Jersey and New York.
"If we do well [in the Waldburger fight], we’d like to fight in Newark. The reason why we want our guys competing in Newark is there is a large Russian community in northern New Jersey and Brooklyn, there is a large following a lot of people don't know about," she told Bleacher Report over the phone.
"Our fans want to come watch these guys locally and I think it would bring a lot more attention to the UFC in Jersey."
Fellow Red Fury Fight Team member Khabib Nurmagomedov, who rolled through lightweight veteran Pat Healy at UFC 165 last month, has already asked the UFC to book him against TJ Grant on the February 1 pay-per-view.
khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) October 7, 2013
Whether or not the company grants his request remains to be seen.
Amagov vs. Waldburger is a part of the four UFC 166 preliminary bouts scheduled to be streamed online, which are set to begin at 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time.
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