Timur Valiev was one of the largest betting favorites on the card heading into his UFC on ESPN 15 showdown with Trevin Jones last August.
Things appeared to be going according to plan in a dominant Round 1 for the Dagestani bantamweight before Jones unleashed a counter left hook that dropped Valiev in the second frame to secure a massive upset victory. Though the result was later overturned to a no contest after Jones tested positive for marijuana, the loss still resonates with Valiev, who has since rebounded to win his next two promotional appearances. The former PFL and WSOF talent doesn’t mind admitting that revenge is something that drives him.
“It would be good to fight against Trevin Jones after our first fight. I want my payback,” Valiev said. “We are highlanders, we are guys from mountains. This guy, Raoni Barcelos, he beat my friend Said Numargomedov and we always pay back. If Trevin fights me again — I know he will, I respect him — but if we fight again, I’m going to finish him.”
Valiev scored arguably the most significant victory of his career to date at UFC Fight Night 190, as he survived a pair of second-round knockdowns against Barcelos to capture a majority decision triumph in what also turned out to be a “Fight of the Night”-winning performance.
“I expected a hard fight against this guy, 5-0 in the UFC, I knew he would cut my head off, but I was prepared,” Valiev said. “I trained hard, this probably was my best camp, and I think on my next fights, I’ll look even better. I’m starting to feel this cage, this atmosphere, being part of the UFC… I’m so happy.”
Valiev has long been tabbed as a fighter to watch at 135 pounds, and now he believes he’s ready to make serious headway in the UFC’s bantamweight division. If he doesn’t get his desired rematch with Jones, the man known as “Lucky” has his sights set on even bigger game.
“I want the toughest guy in this division,” Valiev said. “Give me the toughest guy like stylistically, something. I’ll kill anybody on my way. I’m here to fight.”