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Javid Basharat of Afghanistan reacts after defeating Tony Gravely in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 17, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Javid Basharat Wants To Get The Ball Rolling

UFC Bantamweight Javid Basharat Sees 2023 As The Year That He Can Ascend Up The Rankings. That Journey Starts At UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Imavov.

Prior to his fight against Tony Gravely in September, Javid Basharat watched his younger brother Farid secure the opportunity to join him in the UFC bantamweight division with a dominant effort on Dana White’s Contender Series.

Later that week, he went out and earned a unanimous decision win over Gravely to secure his second consecutive UFC win and push his record to 13-0 overall.

This weekend, big brother makes a relatively hasty return to the Octagon, in part to keep putting more distance between himself and his equally talented little brother.

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“Now you understand!” Basharat said emphatically when I asked if his brother’s arrival on the UFC roster played a part in his signing on to face Mateus Mendonca this weekend. “You’re the only person that brought that out of me.

“I’ve done so much media work and everybody is asking about the quick turnaround, I gave them generic answers, but you’re the one that knows the truth. That’s the real reason I wanted to fight so quick.

“Like I said, I can’t allow him to catch up,” he added, making it clear that all jokes aside, there is seriousness in his desire to keep ample distance between himself and Farid in the bantamweight ranks. “I’m not joking! I don’t want me and my brother to be clashing any time soon, so I need to get the ball rolling.”

Javid Basharat of England kicks Trevin Jones of Guam in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Javid Basharat of England kicks Trevin Jones of Guam in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on March 12, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

As much as getting the opportunity to move to 3-0 in the Octagon before his brother has even had the chance to grace the UFC cage for the first time was part of the calculus for taking this fight, the greater impetus for facing a fellow DWCS graduate and promotional newcomer was his desire to stay active and keep gaining experience.

Basharat had a difficult time finding opponents during his days on the regional circuit, as his reputation and results made him someone few people were eager to step in against. Now that he’s reached the biggest stage in the sport, he doesn’t ever want to spend too much time on the sidelines.

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While that doesn’t mean Basharat is going to take just any fight, he does want to take the ones that make sense to him, and facing Mendonca this weekend in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas made a great deal of sense.

“I need activity,” said Basharat, who defeated veteran Trevin Jones in his promotional debut in February. “It’s something I lacked early on in my career. I want to be active. I do all this hard training, why not be active?

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“It was never ‘Let me get this guy and smash this guy’ — that’s my mindset behind all the fights, but it’s never an ‘easy money’ kind of thing. It was literally for me to stay active. It’s not that I’m underestimating him or anything.

“I cannot take Mateus lightly,” he added in regards to his unbeaten opponent, who trains with the Chute Boxe Diego Lima team. “He’s a very good fighter, he’s undefeated, he’s got a winning mentality, he’s from a winning team; I know what I’m getting into.”

Basharat likens his current situation to that of his close friend and long-time training partner Amir Albazi.

After matchups with both Alex Perez and Brandon Royval fell apart for “The Prince” towards the end of last year, he opted to accept a fight against short-notice replacement Alessandro Costa, a Dana White’s Contender Series alum making his promotional debut, rather than miss out on the opportunity to compete. Following a competitive opening round, Albazi took charge in the second, and secured the finish in the third, earning his fourth consecutive UFC victory.

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“That’s a perfect example,” he said in regards to Albazi’s situation in December. “At the end of the day, we’re fighters — we have a small window when  we can fight and we do all this hard training, so why not fight?

“This whole protecting — I’m undefeated and people may look at me like I’m protecting my record, but if you look at my run in the UFC, there is no protecting going on over here. I’m trying to get the fights that I need to get ahead.

“Ultimately, it’s about my progression,” added Basharat. “It’s not about me protecting my “0” or turning down fights — if the fight benefits me in that I feel like I can improve from the fight and in the training camp, I will take that fight.”

 Javid Basharat (top) punches Oron Kahlon in a bantamweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season 5, week 9 at UFC APEX on October 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Javid Basharat (top) punches Oron Kahlon in a bantamweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season 5, week 9 at UFC APEX on October 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Anyone that thinks Basharat is trying to protect his unbeaten record hasn’t been paying attention or doesn’t follow the sport closely enough to understand you don’t face seasoned, dangerous foes like Jones and Gravely in your first two trips into the Octagon if you’re looking for relatively easy nights at the office.

He did well against Jones in February, showing glimpses of the complete arsenal that makes him someone to keep tabs on in the 135-pound weight class this year, and was forced to deal with a little early adversity in the fight with Gravely after sustaining a cut fairly early into the opening stanza.

“I took away a lot from that fight, to be honest with you; it gave me a lot of confidence,” said Basharat, reflecting on his September unanimous decision win. “I know I can dig deep, and in that fight, I had to dig deep.

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“The cut was bothering me from the beginning. As soon as it happened, it was the first minute, and my game plan had to change. I always knew that I could do it because I’m put in these positions in training, but obviously you can’t emulate a cut during sparring. The fact that it happened so early in the fight, I had to change my game plan up. I still managed to do the things my coaches wanted me to do, but in a different way.”

While Year One saw him go the distance for the first two times in his career, the elder Basharat was ultimately satisfied with his efforts and how his rookie campaign inside the Octagon played out.

“I’m definitely happy overall,” he began. “If I was to have a rookie year like that — to have only two fights —I would have been very annoyed, but the fact that it was against two very good competitors, I was happy with the results.”

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Now he’s ready to take another step towards the rankings by showing Mendonca the difference between being a freshman and a sophomore.

“He’s got very intense offense; he’s going to be pushing the pace,” Basharat said of his Brazilian opponent. “He’s well rounded, he hasn’t felt defeat, so he’s going to be very confident in his skills, but I’m going to keep doing my thing.

Best Debut Finishes of 2022
Best Debut Finishes of 2022

“I haven’t felt defeat, either,” he added. "I feel like I’m a little more experienced than him, and I think the experience will play a factor in this fight, for sure. He will understand that it’s not his time right now — there are levels to this game, and he needs to learn a little bit more.”

And once he’s done with Mendonca, Basharat has his sights set on someone with a number next to their name, but only if he can avoid staying on the sidelines for too long.

“After this fight, I need to be fighting in the rankings,” he said. “I’m closing in on the rankings — I would have liked a ranked guy for this fight, but if I can get a ranked guy next time, I don’t mind waiting, but not any longer than six months.”

After all, he’s got to keep some distance between himself and his little brother.

UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs Imavov took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 14, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - relive the action on UFC Fight Pass