Nurullo Aliyev returned to Tajikistan after his first performance and victory in the UFC. Radio Ozodi correspondent met with the athlete and talked about his achievements and problems, about fees and theft, and about future plans.
Radio Ozodi: They say that when you lost weight, you had health problems and your well-being worsened. How true is this?
Nurullo Aliyev: Before the competition, I had 5-6 extra pounds, and I had to lose them before the weigh-in before the fight. On the last night I lost 3 kg and another 3 kg in the early morning. Praise be to Allah, my condition was not so bad. I got up, got dressed, went to the weigh-in.
Radio Ozodi: During the weigh-in you looked a little tired…
Nurullo Aliyev: Not a little, but you really get tired. When you lose 15-16 kilograms in one and a half to two months, you get very tired.
Radio Ozodi: Your opponent was the experienced Brazilian fighter Rafael Alves. You tried to constantly transfer the fight to the ground and continue your fight with him there. Why did you choose this tactic?
Nurullo Aliyev: Because Rafael Alves is a puncher and one of the fighters whose punches and kicks are heavy and dangerous. Together with the coaches, we made such a plan for the fight that I would fight him on the ground. He had more experience than me, and that’s why we planned the fight on the ground. It was very dangerous to fight standing with this Brazilian athlete.
Radio Ozodi: Questions about salary are considered obscene, but now there is a lot of controversy about the fee that you earned from your first fight in the UFC. Some media wrote that you received 28 thousand dollars, others indicated a smaller amount. How much did you actually earn in your first UFC fight?
Nurullo Aliyev: I don’t know how much others get, but for my first fight I got 20 thousand dollars. Of these, 30% is taxes, 15% is for managers, and another 15% is given to the hall in which the fight was held. Whatever remains after that is taken by the fighter. The UFC promotion does not pay anyone big
Radio Ozodi: Some experts consider such sums to be miserable. And how much did you spend while preparing for the first fight in this organization?
Nurullo Aliyev: It depends on the athlete himself how seriously he takes his work. I try my best at all trainings, I attract the best coaches, which is quite expensive. I have friends who support me, my family also helps me.
Radio Ozodi: Have you found a sponsor yet?
Nurullo Aliyev: There is a sponsor. They invite to cooperate, but I want to find a better sponsor. Not someone who talks about a thousand or two thousand.
Radio Ozodi: How much did you spend on your fees?
Nurullo Aliyev: Only one nutritionist costs 10-12 thousand dollars a month. His job is to design the menu and keep my weight down. In addition, you rent a house, which is another 3-4 thousand dollars. Again, food and trainers’ pay. It’s all costly.
Radio Ozodi: You are called the double of Khabib Nurmagomedov, the most famous Dagestan athlete, and you are very similar, both in face and manner of performance, and even in your behavior after the announcement of victory. But at the same time, there is criticism that with the behavior of Khabib Nurmagomedov, you can remain in his shadow. Don’t you think that you should be yourself, and not a copy of another, albeit eminent, athlete?
Nurullo Aliyev:God has made you like another person. Do I have nothing else to do to tell everyone that I’m not him? I am Nurullo, a Tajik, and I introduce myself everywhere. I am not Khabib and I do not try to be like him. I raise the flag of Tajikistan and everywhere I speak not about myself, but about my country. I try to make my homeland recognized. When I went to America, the UFC asked where you were from, and I answered that I was from Tajikistan. They asked what kind of country, Tajikistan? I said that this is such a state. If you noticed, in the blitz interview after the competition, when I was asked about me, I talked about Tajikistan. Many people ask the same question: Nurullo, why are you trying to be like Khabib? I repeat, I don’t look up to anyone. Now, if they tell you that you look like a famous artist, and everywhere they start writing the same thing about you, Will you start to answer each of those who wrote about it, that no, I’m not like that? When Khabib Nurmagomedov won his last fight, people took to the streets in Dushanbe, and what should we tell people?
Radio Ozodi: It is said that after your first victory in America, you were robbed in Las Vegas. How did this happen and were the suspects found?
Nurullo Aliyev: When our stay at the hotel ended and we needed to vacate our rooms, we took our luggage to the car. She was in the hotel parking lot, we left our bags inside and went back to the hotel to get coffee. Literally 5-6 minutes passed, and when we returned, the windows of the car were broken and our bags were gone. We called the police, looked at the surveillance cameras. It turned out that the thieves, having waited for us to enter the hotel, broke the glass of the car and took our bags. The police said they were looking for the perpetrators, but so far there is no news.
Radio Ozodi: Some asked what was in those bags?
Nurullo Aliyev: The bags contained my and the coach’s clothes, a laptop, a watch, a phone and some money. We had our passports with us.
Radio Ozodi: You signed a contract with the UFC for four more fights. When do you plan to return to the octagon?
Nurullo Aliyev: I hope to perform in June-July. The UFC will be back in Abu Dhabi in October and I want to compete there too. That is, this year I intend to hold two more fights.
Radio Ozodi: Interest in mixed martial arts has grown in Tajikistan, but people have different opinions on this. Some consider the sport to be important for the physical development of young people, but others say that the development of mixed martial arts will lead to an increase in fighting among young people. What is your opinion?
Nurullo Aliyev: I think that mixed martial arts wrestlers are the calmest people. I travel around America and other countries of the world, mixed martial arts are very developed there. I still haven’t heard of any mixed martial artists fighting in these countries on the streets.
Radio Ozodi: Do you think that there is a need for the development of mixed martial arts in Tajikistan?
Nurullo Aliyev: I don’t know about it, but I am the first from Tajikistan who went to the UFC. After that, this promotion saw that we have many supporters in Tajikistan. I think that by the end of the year 4-5 athletes from Tajikistan will compete in the UFC. And I think that Muin Gafurov will also sign a contract with the UFC in the coming days.
Radio Ozodi: After your performance at the Dana White’s Contender Series tournament, you told Dan White, UFC president, that in two years you would become the organization’s lightweight champion. Are you still keeping your word or have your plans changed?
Nurullo Aliyev: One hundred percent, this is my goal.
Source: Radio Ozodi