LAS VEGAS – With 14 straight wins and high-profile stoppages in two of his first three UFC fights, it’s no surprise Makhmud Muradov is a favorite Saturday.

But that Muradov (25-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is such a heavy favorite against someone like Gerald Meerschaert (32-14 MMA, 7-6 UFC) might come as a bit of a shock. Muradov is the biggest betting favorite on the card at Tipico at -650 – and that’s against the fighter who owns the UFC’s record for most submissions at middleweight.

Muradov said his fight with Meerschaert is one he has had his eye on for years.

“I know this guy,” Muradov told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day for UFC on ESPN 30 in Las Vegas. “Before I was in the UFC … I saw this guy and I told my manager, ‘Man, I need to go to the UFC and fight this guy.’ Three years (ago), I knew I could (beat) this guy. My style is good for this fight. I’m better in my striking. I have good footwork. My grappling is not bad. So we’ll see. Fighting is my life. I prepared hard for this one, and I’m ready for anything.”

Muradov said one big difference for him against Meerschaert will be the benefit of a normal training camp instead of getting calls on short notice. But even if his three UFC fights so far haven’t featured full camps, they haven’t seemed to matter much.

Muradov has walked away with extra $50,000 checks in two straight fights for his knockouts of Trevor Smith in December 2019 and Andrew Sanchez in January.

“For the first time, I have a full camp,” he said. “Three fights in the UFC, I have only one week, eight days and Trevor Smith I had 20 days. Now I have a full camp.”

UFC on ESPN 30 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN+.

Check out the full interview with Muradov in the video above.


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