- At the UFC 251 tournament, Peter Jan will compete with Jose Aldo for the vacant lightweight title. You were surprised that the UFC chose the Brazilian in opposition to the Russian?

“It looks a little strange if you don't know the background.” Yes, he has two losses in a row in a row, but according to many experts, one of them was not entirely fair. I mean his battle with Marlon Moraes. There was no sensation that José had “moved” there. He dominated a little and deserved to win. Yes, and whom to put, if not Aldo?

- For example, the same Moraes. After all, he officially prevailed.

- I guess, yes. But the UFC just does nothing. The promotion has a development strategy for each of the divisions. In addition, it seems to me that Dana White is indebted to Aldo for the defeat of Moraes. Perhaps this somehow affected.

- But after all, Jan already had a fight planned with Moraes at the canceled tournament in Kazakhstan. Wasn’t it easier to transfer it to UFC 251 and assign it as a title?

- Maybe. But if you look at everything from the point of view of the promoter, who refuses to look at the confrontation between Jan and Aldo? Personally, I think that Jose deserves the right to fight for the belt.

- At one time, Henry Sehudo advocated that Aldo be made the first contender. After all, the ex-champion wanted to fight with a star and status opponent. How beneficial is Peter to a duel with Jose?

- Aldo is a name that will forever remain in the history of the UFC, even if he never once won the upper hand. As for merit, he is on a par with Georges Saint-Pierre and Anderson Silva. For Jan, defeating such a fighter is a great success. This will draw attention to him.

- In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Yang was in Thailand in the Tiger Muay Thai hall and, as a result, spent there preparing for the battle with Aldo. He was lucky that at that moment he ended up in Bangkok, and not in Moscow, for example?

- To some extent, yes. I think Peter's team made the right decision, staying in Thailand.

- Consequently, Ian should not have experienced such problems during the preparation as Alexander Volkov himself?

- Of course, none of the fighters can fully prepare for the fight. But in this case, Ian had a slight advantage. During the pandemic, conditions in Thailand were better.

- Speaking of Volkov, what is your impression of Alexander’s performance in the battle with Curtis Blades?

- Volkov looked good. Of course, I wanted him to win. In terms of experience, this is a huge step forward. It would be interesting if the athletes made the felling, but Curtis should not be blamed for not going to it. He made the most of his advantages. For such a defeat, Alexander could not be ashamed.

- It seemed that Volkov was inferior to Blades in exchanges. There was a lack of sharpness, a sense of distance ...

- Perhaps the reason is the developed wrestling skills of the American. When a person is strong in this aspect, he can speculate with it, distract counterparts with false passages in his legs, and instead strike.

- Volkov admitted that he experienced serious problems during the preparation. He was mainly occupied at home and used only a horizontal bar and weights to maintain his shape. Nevertheless, can such imperfect conditions be considered a full justification? He can acquire a power complex, a treadmill. Take the example of Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James, who constantly maintain themselves in perfect shape.

- Alexander Volkov is a well-known fighter. I don’t think that he could have problems getting one or another sporting equipment. Here we come to the problem of training Russian athletes. In our country, you need to look carefully to find a club in which there are specialists in all areas - nutrition, physical training, boxing, wrestling and grappling. And so that these people understand what works in MMA and what does not. For example, it does not surprise me that mostly domestic athletes are strong middle peasants.

- What is the reason?

- In Russia, training is designed specifically for the reproduction of athletes of this level. Moreover, after a trip to the United States, many of them seriously improve both skills and results. We need a team that monitors the fighter and passes it from hand to hand, like a child. In principle, he should not think about where to get the necessary dumbbells or barbell. The OFP coach must run towards him with them.

- Returning to UFC 251, many consider Jan a favorite in the battle with Aldo. Do you agree?

- In my opinion, as a fighter Peter is much fresher. He did not follow the path that Aldo already had — numerous weight-racers, trainings, fights. The Brazilian has seen a lot.

In my opinion, Peter is approaching its peak, while Jose's career is coming to an end. I think the Russian will outplay him. Ruthless Siberian will defeat King Rio.

“How can Ian have an advantage over Aldo?”

“Peter will be better prepared and able to find the keys to Jose’s signature kicks.” A Russian likes to crush, and against such opponents it is always difficult to use low-kicks. In addition, Jan has a pretty good fight. He honed these skills well.

“But Jan doesn’t often use grappling.” Do you think in the upcoming battle he will try to transfer Aldo to the ground?

“I don't think so.” But if you have to use a kind of additional turbine, then he has one. Ian is not one of those who will be afraid that his counterpart will suddenly jump at his feet.

- Aldo built his career in the UFC mainly on victories over opponents, inferior to him in height and length of arms. I immediately recall Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar. Jan can also be attributed to this category. Should you expect a repeat of the script?

- I think Peter will not fall under Jose’s hypnosis. The Russian will go to him, make him dance to his tune. The Brazilian has powerful kicks, but I do not think that he is superior to the opponent in the speed of his hands.

- Apart from the controversial defeat from Moraes, over the past 15 years, Aldo has lost only to one athlete who was inferior to him in anthropometry - Aleksander Volkanovsky. Ian have something to learn from the success of the Australian?

- Volkanovsky imposed on Aldo his pace, rhythm. Jose always liked to attack from a jump, but then repeatedly failed. Alexander used this and worked in the middle or near range. Interrupted him. And he also crushed the Brazilian, approached and instantly stepped back. What is called, in and out.

- You admired the uniqueness of Tony Ferguson and Zabit Magomedsharipov. How would you rate Aldo and Jan in this regard and how will their styles fit in this battle?

- Jan is more of a station wagon. If you take criteria such as skills in grappling, wrestling and striking techniques, then by their sum he exceeds Aldo. Jose is an explosive, bright, agile, very effective fighter. Peter is a Siberian character who constantly goes forward. This time I do not wait for the fireworks in the octagon, but I look forward to a rather spectacular and dynamic match.

- In 2016, Jan and Aldo trained in the same camp. In your opinion, does such an experience harm or help in preparation for a full-time duel?

- I do not think that this will be a key factor. Four years ago, Peter was completely different. In this regard, Jose will not be able to extract special dividends. As the Brazilian himself admitted, he still had memories of the Russian, in particular, about his weak grappling at that time. Now they mean little. Nevertheless, each athlete has several tricks that he uses throughout his career. Usually there are about three to five. In the case when the athlete is very technically diverse, there may be more. If Aldo then saw something like this in Jan’s technique, then that could help.

- In an interview with RT, Peter said that from that moment, Jose did not get better, while he noticeably added. Do you agree?

- Yes. I remember Jan from his performances in ACB, battles with Magomed Magomedov. Now he is a seasoned fighter. And Aldo at some point reached a peak, after which there was practically no change in his technique. Although the same Khabib Nurmagomedov does approximately the same thing, no one can handle it. The difference is that keys have already been picked up for Jose.

- Doesn't it seem to you that Aldo broke down after losing to Conor McGregor in 2015?

- Of course, this affected his psychological state. But I would not say that King Rio has broken. Perhaps the behavior of McGregor was discouraging for him. He was not used to this type of communication, did not know how to behave. I think now he has dealt with this and returned.

- Yang himself often does not hesitate to sharply respond to opponents, albeit not as skilled in thrash talk as McGregor. Perhaps Aldo was lucky that now communication between opponents is as limited as possible due to COVID-19?

“I would not want Yang and Aldo to use thrash talk in communication with each other.” This is not the kind of guy who deserves it. He always behaved respectfully and was not distinguished by attacks on rivals. The victory itself over Jose is a great achievement.

- Ian has repeatedly said that he plans to knock out Aldo. Do you think he will succeed?

- I do not exclude the possibility that in the later rounds Peter can send Jose a knockout. But it seems to me that the fight will last the whole distance, and Ian will prevail by a judicial decision.

- Oleg Taktarov said that Jan can dominate the bantamweight for four to five years. Do you agree?

- Of course, Peter will be in the lead roles in this division. How long he will dominate depends on the athlete himself and the level of competition.

- Who would be called the most uncomfortable opponent for Jan among the representatives of the division at the moment?

- All representatives of the top of the category are very strong fighters. But I would not say that even one of them can be called uncomfortable for Ian. The reason is its universalism. I don’t think that now in the bantamweight category there is such an opponent that Peter would be too early to meet.

- And TJ Dillashaw?

- This fight would have looked with pleasure. But I don’t think it’s too early for Jan to fight Dillashaw.

- Recently, UFC rising star Sean O'Malley joked with Ian. Do you think it’s too early for an American to allow himself such a thing in relation to the first applicant?

- If we take into account the level of technology, then I could have timed with such statements. But from the point of view of PR, it is even profitable for Peter. Sean is now riveted a lot of attention, and with such statements, he helps promote Ian.

- Doesn't it seem to you that the UFC is making the new McGregor from O'Malley?

“Americans of all are trying to make new MacGregor.” They feel that the guy has a certain charisma, attracts attention. So they are trying to win back this card.

- The main event of UFC 251 will be a duel between Masvidal and Usman. Jorge took the fight on a weekly notice. What are his chances of winning?

- It seems to me that Masvidal is disingenuous that four to five weeks before the tournament his team said goodbye to hopes of getting a chance to compete for the title, and the fighter himself stopped preparing. I think he continued to keep fit.

- A few years ago Masvidal was considered an average fighter and alternated victories and defeats. Do you think he really made serious progress over the past year, or is it all about a bright knockout in the battle with Ben Askren?

- Of course, it played a big role. Askren was riveted the attention of the audience, but then he went out and immediately fell. Everyone wondered who the guy was who knocked him out. In the context of Masvidal, Lawler immediately comes to mind. While Robbie remained a bully in the world of MMA, he did not achieve anything. But when he took up his mind, he immediately became the champion of the UFC.

- Do you think the stories are similar?

- Jorge has grown. He became older, smarter, began to understand some things. Naturally, the quality of the training process has grown. This happens to many representatives. Over the years, they become wiser.

- In your opinion, who is the most uncomfortable opponent for Usman - Masvidal or Gilbert Burns?

“In my opinion, Jorge.” He has faster and stronger hands. Yes, Gilbert also has a good kick from the right, but is a bit like Tyrone Woodley. And Usman was already defeating him.

“Don’t you think that Usman will do the same with Masvidal that he did with Woodley?”

- Of course, he will try to press him to the net, fight, try to neutralize his hands. If this succeeds, then Usman will win. Most likely a solution. But the most spectacular in the tournament will be the fight between Jan and Aldo.

- In addition to Jan, three more Russians will perform at UFC 251. Muslim Salikhov will fight Eliseu Zaleski Dos Santos, who defeated Alexei Kunchenko in his last fight. How do you assess the odds of Muslim?

- I hope Salikhov ends the battle with a spectacular knockout and takes the cash bonus for "Performance of the evening." Zaleski is his strength.

- Roman Bogatov will meet with Leonardo Santos. Does he have a chance in a battle with such an opponent?

- Roman will be harder if only for the reason that for him it will be a debut in the UFC. If he copes with the pressure, he will resist Leonardo. There is a feeling that Bogatov is inferior to Santos in the class. However, mixed martial arts are often unpredictable.  

- Also at UFC 251 veteran Maxim Grishin will make his debut, who will replace Alexander Romanov in a fight with Marchin Tybura. How hard will it be for him in a new category for himself, and even on a short notice?

- The advantage of Tybura may become his weakness. I hope Grishin will be faster and more resilient vis-a-vis. But making a forecast is difficult, because it is not known in what form Maxim is.

- Last week Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away. How did you react to this news?

- I want to convey condolences to the relatives and friends of this big man who set the bar high for domestic coaches. Everyone who is somehow connected with martial arts. Abdulmanap is a block. It is enough to see how the Americans respond about it. Positive energy emanated from him, it was felt how people respect him. He will be sorely missed by Russian MMA, but most of all by his family and friends. I was very upset when I heard about his death.

- Now with the name of the Nurmagomedovs, the success of Russian MMA fighters in the international arena is largely associated ...

- Abdulmanap, along with his son Habib, raised to another level of MMA in Russia, interest in this sport. They made everyone reckon with us.

- The death of Abdulmanap has already affected people close to him - Umar Nurmagomedov and Tagir Ulanbekov refused to speak at UFC tournaments in July. Is the decision right?

- The act of real men. Do not think that the death of Abdulmanap will negatively affect them. They will return even more evil and hungry, real predators.   

- Do not you think that the death of a father can delay the fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gatzhi or even provoke the end of a Russian career?

- Perhaps the battle will be postponed to a later date. But I do not think that Nurmagomedov will withdraw from him or announce the end of his career. Habib is not the kind of person who can be so easily broken.