With lifetime of fighting experience, Bellator's 'Frodo' ready to prove worth


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magomedrasul-khasbulaev-1.jpgMake no mistake about it, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (20-5 MMA, 4-0 BFC) was born a fighter. And if his impressive run to Bellator MMA’s Season 8 featherweight tournament final isn’t enough to convince you, then consider his previous experience, as well.

“My elder brother always taught me not to fight at school or in the streets,” Khasbulaev told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “But I still fought. they almost expelled me from school for fighting. I always jumped in the mix, whenever anybody fought, so combat sports is everything for me and always was.

“Before I was 18, I fought pretty often. I can’t say the number – 20, maybe 30 fights. I fought at school, on the streets and even in my wrestling gym.”

Fans of Khasbulaev likely aren’t surprised by his back story. The Russian featherweight has earned stoppage wins in 18 of his 20 career victories and rarely stays idle for any extended amounts of time.

“Fighting has become a part of my life,” Khasbulaev said. “For example, after the fight when I take one or two weeks off, I just can’t wait to get back in a gym.”

The effort has paid off in Khasbulaev’s Bellator run. After spending his early years developing in his native country’s regional circuit, Khasbulaev has stormed through Bellator’s featherweight contenders and now has four stoppage wins in four career fights for the promotion.

“The U.S. is the center of MMA,” Khasbulaev said. “The biggest promotions are there, and the best fighters compete there. And to become the best, you have to beat the best. If you become known in the U.S., you automatically become known in the rest of the world.”

And Khasbulaev could very well be on the verge of breaking out. At tonight’s Bellator 95 event, which takes place at Revel’s Ovation Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., he meets fellow featherweight tournament finalist Mike Richman (15-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC). The winner earns a title shot against the winner of current champ Pat Curran’s title fight with Shahbulat Shamhalaev, which also takes place at Bellator 95.

It’s too early for “Frodo” to start breaking down his title chances. After all, there’s still a tournament to win. But the ultimate prize isn’t too far away from Khasbulaev’s mind.

“Becoming the Bellator featherweight world champion would mean that I’m the best in the world,” Khasbulaev said. “It’s a goal that means the world to me. It means everything.

“I came to Bellator to win a belt, of course. I have to start by winning the tournament, but winning the belt is my ultimate goal.”

But win or lose, Khasbulaev has established himself as an exciting athlete capable of impressive victories, and he looks set to become a promotional mainstay. At his core is the benefit of a lifetime of hand-to-hand combat. And with that experience comes an instant realization of what fans want to see.

“You know, I always tried to finish my opponents,” Khasbulaev said. “Audience likes it. I train standup a lot, so now winning by knockout is more interesting for me.

“In this fight I will prove that I belong in Bellator and that I’m capable of becoming a champion.”

For more on Bellator 95, stay tuned to the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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