“They offered me to promote energy drinks. I refused” Zabit Magomedsharipov’s interview to Russian Match TV channel
Photo by Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
UFC featherweight fighter from Dagestan Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) is number 15 in the official featherweight ranking. He made his UFC debut in September 2017 and is currently on a 14-fight win streak (6-0 in the UFC). Zabit had his last fight in November 2019 against Calvin Kattar whom he defeated by unanimous decision.
In a big interview to the Russian Match TV channel Zabit talked about his plans, friends and competitors as well as his rising popularity.
“My next fight will be in Brooklyn on April 18, I know my next opponent’s name but cannot reveal it yet, until I get the contract. I’ll just say he is from top-5 but it’s not the Korean Zombie."
Are you interested in Korean Zombie?
“Yes, I like his style: he’s tough, goes forward, he’s good on his feet. It would be interesting to test him. And myself.”
He defeated Frankie Edgar, your teammate.
“We’ve been training with Frankie for three years already. We help each other but he had just three weeks to prepare for the fight and, unfortunately, he took a shot in that fight. But it is what it is. Everybody loses.”
Khabib said that when he became popular, he started seeing some challenges he hadn’t seen before. Like when he can’t go out and walk in the center of his own town. Do you feel the same?
“I can walk in the center but people will approach me to take a photo with me. I’ll probably have to stand with them for an hour. So I usually send my younger brother to go to the store than go myself. If I want to take a walk in the park I try to do it at night and wearing a hoodie. I stay at home a lot during the day.”
Another story from Khabib was that he told that, being a professional in Dagestan, he could also fight on the streets. How about you?
“No, when I became a professional fighter, I didn’t fight at all (on the streets), never after my first pro fight. In childhood, yes, I could. Everything was different in Dagestan in the past.”
You have two million of followers on Instagram. Can you monetize it somehow?
“I don’t have regular sponsors. There are, for example, friends from Kazakhstan that help me but they don’t like being promoted even though they are worthy brothers, they always support me. And I and my brother also have a contract with sporting equipment manufacturer.”
Did anyone offer you to promote anything unacceptable?
“Yes, and I refused many times. They offered me to promote energy drinks, I refused.”
Is it not profitable or was it because of some moral principles?
“Both. I didn’t have any desire to work with them. I know for sure I was offered by a clothes brand but I have an agreement with my outfitter and I won’t break it. In my religion, you can’t break an agreement, so I work with them even though I’m being offered better terms.”
You began to launch your own clothes. Does it generate any income?
“I started it not for business but more for my soul. I just want to wear my own clothes and give it as gifts. I gave it to many people. Lots of people.”
Do you learn English?
“There’s some progress. I used to have lessons with a teacher by FaceTime until I stopped but I will start again soon. It’s easier in America because I speak English with my trainer and I understand and remember better.”
After your last fight in Moscow many people began to say that you lack cardio and if a hater looks at your DagFighter gym, he or she will say that there’s no cardio machines or crossfit zones here.
“I wouldn’t say I have a perfect cardio but I easily fight for five rounds during trainings. It happens sometimes due to cutting weight or some illness. Plus, I lose lots of energy when I kick. It takes energy. If you just box, you can easily work for 4-5 rounds but you see me kicking too.”
You smiled when I asked about cardio. Do you get asked about that a lot?
“I even got tired of that at first. Everyone feels it their duty to say it, even on the streets they say: “Everything’s great but you need to improve your cardio.” You get tired of it and it irritates a little bit. Every other tells you this but you should understand that I have my trainers and I also understand that I must work on it.”
What do you do to improve it?
“Every training session improves your cardio: exercises, sparrings. And we usually spar every other day: four rounds for five minutes each. When we spar in the gym it’s ok but I guess I should lose less energy during the fight.”
Can you tell what happened in the only fight that you had lost (to Igor Egorov)?
“Why I lost… It means I didn’t train the way I should have. That loss doesn’t bother me, it actually helps I guess. You don’t worry, there’s no pressure. If I had been undefeated, maybe that would have given pressure on me. But I already lost, so I know what it’s like.”
Another person from your gym made a stir lately by calling out Petr Yan and Alexander Shlemenko.
“Honestly, I don’t even follow the news. I’m at the gym in the morning and evening but I still don’t know what’s going on out there: who says what, no idea, and I didn’t see any interviews. Who said what? The Iranian? I saw him a couple of times in the gym but I don’t know him too much.”
Do you have any competition with Petr Yan as for who would be the first to grab the title shot?
“There’s no competition. Whoever gets it first, he will be first.”
You both fight regularly. Dana White mentions you both in a list of the prospective fighters of the UFC. Do you have any serious injuries after fights of training?
“Nothing serious yet. I remember injuring my fingers – furuncles – right before the fight, it happened almost every time before the event. And when they are cut out, holes are left and theoretically commission may say you’re not clear to fight. So you have to plaster it somehow. I guess there was some infection in my body at that moment, and when my immune system faltered, they came out. I approached my last 3-4 fights with this issue.”
Maybe that’s because of cutting weight? You’re one of the highest fighters on your division.
“I weigh about 170 in between fights, I used to weigh 176 but it’s 167-169 now. I feel cutting weight just about a couple of days before the fight. I didn’t have any problems before and I’m not going to switch to lightweight either.”
Would you move up to fight Conor?
“Sure. Even though it’s hard for me to gain weight but I could try for that fight.”
What do you think about Conor vs. Cerrone?
“Honestly, I haven’t watched it.”
“Yes, never. I usually watch fights of those I know personally, I can even rewatch them several times. From that event I watched Askar Askarov’s fight but I didn’t watch Conor’s.”
And you still haven’t watched it?
“I still haven’t.”