Russian UFC fighter Roman Kopylov, after an unsuccessful start to the promotion, picked up speed and delivered three knockout wins in a row. We spoke with Roman about the last fight and when he plans to return to the Octagon. Kopylov also talked about the training camp in Dagestan, about his goals in the UFC, assessed the upcoming fights of Khamzat Chimaev and Islam Makhachev, and also suggested which of the organization’s Russian fighters in the future will be able to take the championship belt. .
– First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your victory over Claudio Ribeiro. Could this performance have been better? Did the opponent surprise you? At the end of the first round, he attacked dangerously and it felt like you were a bit surprised. – Well, this is the only moment so awkward, yes. This is probably due to the lack of a coach. If there was a coach in the corner, he would say: “Roma, don’t relax.” I relaxed a little at the last minute, and because of this, such a confusion turned out. I wouldn’t say it was directly shocking, but there were unpleasant seconds. And so, everything seems to be normal.
– For these seconds, the judges turned Ribeiro around. – Yes, well, I asked the guys who are related to the fights and who saw the fight. I don’t know, well those 20 seconds were at the end, otherwise everyone gave me a round. I myself was surprised when journalists said that the judges turned it around. I thought: “How do you win then?” Apparently, like at the beginning of the second round. No, I get it, if he finished me off there and I was about to gong would only save me. But no bruises, nothing. Yes, I backed off a bit, but everything was aware, everything was under control.
– In the end you received no bonus, although it seemed that Gaethje’s kick was worse than yours. Isn’t it embarrassing? — Yes, preference is given to main battles. I don’t understand why the bonus was given to Bobby Green who fought Tony Ferguson. The usual choke, three rounds toyed with the veteran. Some kind of incomprehensible fight, and in the end the bonus was given away. This point is, of course, incomprehensible. Well, okay, ours won’t let us. So next time.
Kopylov floored Ribeiro with a perfect high kick. How was the?
Kopylov is tearing the UFC apart! Roman scored a third straight win and challenged Strickland
– About next time. In February, you said you planned to have three fights before the end of the year. There are two, are you planning to fight again? Yes, a fight is a must. He was supposed to fight on June 17, but the opponent was injured. It’s not our fault, that’s it. And they postponed it for a month. So, if he had had a fight in June, he calmly would have made another fight. And now I would like to return in November.
– You won’t have time for the Abu Dhabi tournament? “I can do it, it’s just that there are no more places.” Many ask, everyone wants to perform in Abu Dhabi, everything is already packed.
— Is there any clue about a new opponent? Maybe there will be a rating fighter? – So far they are communicating, but there is no information, to be honest.
– After the last fight, you said that you signed a new contract with UFC. how many fights – For four fights. Now there are three more, it turns out.
– You challenged Strickland, and Joe Rogan was surprised that you were competing in the middleweight division. When Sean was called, did you think he was beating the Russian fighters? – Yes, the guys live abroad (Nassurdin Imavov and Abusupyan Magomedov. – Approx. “Championship”), but they still speak Russian, Dagestan. I thought what is it, why can’t they beat it? These guys are serious, I preferred them in fights with Strickland. It turned out, you see how. Well, I was interested in testing my strength. Also, work more in the rack. The fans like stand up fights, we would show a great fight, for a feast for the eyes.
– There are many Russian fighters at middleweight. Besides you, these are Abus Magomedov, Imavov, Shara Bullet, Ikram Aliskerov. Is there any explanation for this at all? – I don’t know, the guys, as they say, are in demand. They showed up, they showed up. Management thinks they should be there. I am glad that so many fighters from Russia have signed on to the UFC.
– Don’t you think it’s unfair that Aliskerov has a qualifying opponent for the second fight, and you have three fights with those who are below the top 15? – This is a stone in the garden of managers. Why don’t they work well (laughs). No, in fact, everything is fine, I am satisfied with my team, managers. I’m just not good at these things. It probably depends on it.
– You say in all interviews that you don’t like to talk about thrash, you prefer a different style of communication with rivals. Don’t you think it will turn out like with Magomed Ankalaev, who also does not participate in trash talk, and they just pushed him away? – It seems that’s why they turned Ribeiro around (laughs). But the league leadership seems to be satisfied with my performances. After the first two losses too, after all, they could have been fired calmly, but they gave me a chance. I am very grateful to them, I hope to justify their trust. I think someone takes it with a thrash stream, someone with nice fights. The people love it. When the Russians go out into the street, they usually boo, but this time everything was warm, they were received with good humor. And after the fight, I heard that everyone liked it. This is how we will demonstrate it with beautiful fights.
Photo: Mike Roach/Getty Images
– Khamzat Chimaev also moved to his weight, and will have a fight with Paulo Costa. How do you rate his chances? – Costa is a serious test, but I give preference to Khamzat, because the fight decides, as they say. If he dictates his style, puts him down and torments a bit, then Costa is in trouble. Plus, he’s so muscular that he’ll jam. I think Chimaev will have no problem if he manages to translate.
– Your base is melee combat. American commentators, discussing their duel, could not explain to each other what hand-to-hand combat is. The foreigners, with whom you may be training, do not specify, are you not interested in this? – Hand-to-hand combat is quite popular, known to the world. Championships are held, many countries participate. It should have been said that these are MMA made simple. Even MMA in clothes, we have a kimono in the same place.
— You come from AMC Fight Nights. Do you keep in touch with Kamil Gadzhiev? Do you follow Russian promotions? Maybe for some fighters? – Well, with Kamil Gadzhiev, the connection is not such as to call, correspond. When we meet, of course, we greet each other. Guys, fight yeah. There are interesting fighters. Grisha Ponomarev will now fight in the ASA. I see some loud fights. To be honest, I don’t really follow you. This is not intended to offend anyone. Just some high profile fights from our fighters. That is, I do not wake up every Sunday and do not watch in a row. So, I see on social media that some fights are planned in Russia, in different leagues.
– Training before the fights they are now having in Dagestan. Is it difficult compared to the places you trained before? – It’s hard, yes. The guys there seem to be strangers, but they have such competition that you think: “Why don’t you fight in the best leagues in the world or at least in some Russian ones?” In the salon they give competitive sparring. It is comfortable in Dagestan, the result is obvious, as they say. Three wins since he began training with Rasul Magomedaliev at Universal Fighters. The guys there are good, with such a brotherly and warm attitude, everyone helps each other. The weather is good in Makhachkala both in summer and in winter, the food is of high quality, delicious. All conditions in general.
– Did you manage to see the sights of Dagestan? – To be honest, we trained more in the training ground. If you are going somewhere in the canyon, it also takes time. And it was so hot. I only managed to go to the sea, but I didn’t go anywhere much. It’s distracting, tiring, to be honest. You don’t rest on weekends, you don’t recover.
Did you manage to improve wrestling in the end? In the first battles there was a problem with this. – Each of the last three opponents tried to go to the legs. Perhaps, of course, they are not quite fighters, but they managed to hold their own. They did not want to go any further. Although if a person does not succeed on the shelf, he will try to fight. Here they did it in one attempt, it was not crowned with success. In general, only the fight will tell, but I like to think that my fight has improved. If this turns out to be true in practice, I will be very happy. However, I spent a lot of time in net wrestling, positions, grappling.
Photo: Josh Hedges/Getty Images
– Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov praised you in 2018. Was there any crossover with Khabib himself or someone from his team? – At the first tournaments in Moscow, it was that he was on his feet, already preparing for the start, and Khabib and his father went there. Someone fought there. I wish you good luck. And so, for training or some kind of long communication, there is no such thing, it was not.
– How do you assess your prospects in the UFC? Will he reach the title? – I do everything for this. You see, we are calling for serious fighters, we want to test our strength. The coach says that he will make me champion, I fully trust him. Every fighter pursues that goal, I am no exception. I would like to climb this peak, this is a great dream. For little Bachatsky, where I am, this will be a historic moment if everything comes true.
– In your hometown, you are probably already a local star, everyone knows you. But in Dagestan, will they recognize the same thing as a UFC fighter? — Well yes, people at home know it. But you also come somewhere, a lot of people go up to take pictures, Dagestan is also no exception in this regard. Furthermore, they follow all the sporting events there, they probably know all the wrestlers. So the guys come over and say hello.
– Makhachev’s revenge with Oliveira in October. Any chance of Charles putting up a more competitive fight this time? – Even when Petr Yan fought Sterling for the second time, I told everyone that it would be more difficult, since Aljamain would study everything, understand the mistakes. And so it happened. And here, too, I think Islam will be the favorite, of course, but Oliveira understood how to act, studied Makhachev’s strengths and weaknesses. I think Islam needs to be more serene now. It should be a little tougher for him in this fight, but he’ll still be able to deal with these moments, and hopefully it’s over again. However, it will be more difficult, yes.
Makhachev and Chimaev got opponents at the tournament in Abu Dhabi
A super tournament is being prepared for Makhachev and Chimaev in Abu Dhabi. But our boys’ rivals are failures.
Gaethje will most likely be the next contender. In the event of a fight with Islam, will he stand a chance or will it be the same story as in his fight with Khabib? – I think that at the moment Oliveira is a more serious opponent for Makhachev than Gaethje. Again though, these are fights, there are hit and miss things here. We have already seen how people fall a second before the gong. Lucky breaks happen, but I think it will be easier for Islam with Gaethje.
– Which of the Russian fighters do you see as UFC champions? – Sergey Pavlovich, the first number in the heavyweight rating. There, only the champion goes further, so I think victory is not far away. The current champion is already avoiding it. This suggests that our heavyweight will soon be the new champion. Umar is still, but wounded. May God grant him health, so that he recovers, recovers, and goes into battle. Ankalaev? Well, he is already a people’s champion for us, as they say. Peter Yan, I think, will be back in this title race. Rested, restarted. Someone may have written him off, but I think he’ll still please us all.
– Is there any version of what happened to Jan? It is clear that there was an injury, but in general he looks somewhat slower in his last fights. – It is difficult to judge, and it is not for me to do so. Peter, probably, knows better what he had, what problems worried him. We don’t know what injury he came out with, how he prepared himself. Maybe he should have pulled out of the last fight. I think he will draw conclusions, change the training place or attract someone to train. It seems to me that he will not stop and return to the title.
– Now you are in Bachatsky. How long do you plan to rest, how do you spend your vacation? – Yes, since Monday, training. They played, they sweated. Everything is fine, we must return to the battle as soon as possible. In September I plan to return to Makhachkala, and I think that by then there will be some news. We will continue preparing, training, winning. At home I swim, we go fishing, we develop fisheries, I spend time with my family. Everything is as usual.