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Thoughts on opponent, Zubaira Tukhugov? Tukhugov is a great opponent for me. I like this matchup a lot. He's tricky and light on his feet with flashy striking. I believe he has some weaknesses that I'm going to exploit, though. I'm very glad we’ll be meeting in the cage on December 10th. A win over him will bump my ranking up as well.
Training: 8 a.m. jiu-jitsu class, 10 a.m. striking, 2 p.m. wrestling
When and why did you start training for fighting? I was always involved in martial arts and I just loved competition. I started in Karate from age five to seven and then at age nine I enrolled in a school called Universal Defense Systems, which covered a wide array of styles from kickboxing, judo, Kung-fu, and Arnis. I started in point sparring tournaments, Arnis (Escrima) tournaments, amateur kickboxing, and after enrolling in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school under Rodrigo Gracie I started in BJJ tournaments. The next step was, of course, MMA. So in 2003 I had my first fight at 185 pounds against Ronald Stallings. I was hooked ever since. Fighting has always been part of my life.
What ranks and titles have you held? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Ring of Combat Lightweight Champion, The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 Finalist.
Do you have any heroes? My parents are both my heroes. They both worked so hard to support my brother and I. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? Fighting in the UFC has always been a dream for me that I worked hard every day in order to achieve. And now that I'm here again, I'm only going to work even harder and smarter than ever before.