Las Vegas, NV – Coming off a near two-year layoff UFC light heavyweight Askar Mozharov finally arrives in the octagon for his UFC debut against Alonzo Menifield at UFC Vegas 56 on Saturday night.
Mozharov (21-11) was supposed to make his debut against Dustin Jacoby in August 2021, but had to withdraw from the bout.
“It’s a big honor to compete in the biggest organization in the world UFC. Of course it’s been a long road to get here. Just for this fight specifically I was waiting 10 months to finally get it. About three canceled bouts, but we just stayed focused. There was a big thing also with USADA and a few things,” Mozharov told reporters through a translator on Wednesday.
“I also underestimated a bit how serious UFC is and how many things and obligations you have to do to be able to come out to the fight, but we waited it all and we’re here ready to go.”
Mozharov is from Ukraine and with the war going on in his homeland it was tough for him to continue training while many of his fellow countrymen returned home to fight.
“Of course it’s a very tough time. A lot of athletes and people ended up going back to the country to go to war and protect the country. A lot of (my) friends suggested that it’s much better and easier to pursue this path especially that I have an opportunity to be able to do that, and I can show my country in a better way. Maybe this is the smartest option for me to stay as an athlete and go represent Ukraine on the world’s stage,” Mozharov said.
Mozharov will face Menifield at the UFC APEX. Menifield is coming off a decision loss to William Knight in December.
“I’m not a big fan of speaking about the fighters before the fight specially. All I know about him is he’s a respectful guy, he’s a game opponent, I’m not underestimating him at all. Me personally I’m more focused on myself and prepared,” Mozharov said.
“In terms of him I think he’s a great guy.”
There was some confusion in the lead up to his UFC debut about his professional fight record. Mozharov explained why the change was made.
“I spent so much time since the age of 18 fighting professional fights fighting pretty much anyone that I could. A lot of the fights that I had were in China and the organizations they don’t add fights after so you have to really pursue it to make sure they add the fights that you have so they make sure that you have it on record. This is actually a situation that last 7-8 years no one mentioned anything, no one said anything. Now when I get up to the biggest promotion, I’m in the UFC, I guess someone or one of the admins wants to prove himself,” Mozharov said.
“It’s a little bit weird right?”
Watch the full media day scrum with Askar Mozharov above. Mozharov faces Alonzo Menifield on the main card portion of UFC Vegas 56 on June 4th at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV.