Quickly shifting from prospect to contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov is looking to step things up from here on out. The Dagestani impressed in his April rout of Rafael dos Anjos, and is looking to test himself on a bigger stage.
"I was really relaxed," says Nurmagomedov in an interview with M1 Global. "It felt like sparring to me. I even felt I didn't warm up enough. We had a plan and I was able to execute it 100%. Train hard, fight easy. As you could see I was victorious.
"It was probably the first fight when I felt I could go five rounds. Even when the referee raised my hand I thought about five rounds. I feel I'm ready for it. Before a title fight I'd really like to headline an even to test myself in a five-round bout."
Having appeared on the main card of a UFC event just twice, Nurmagomedov reportedly turned down a headlining slot opposite Donald Cerrone for the promotion's Jul. 16 Fight Night event in Atlantic City. The devout Muslim opted to forgo a training camp during the observance of this summer's Ramadan. Spanning Jun. 28 to Jul. 28, practitioners abstain from food and drink during daylight hours.
"The beginning of September would be just perfect for me," says Nurmagomedov. "I need 40 days after Ramadan to prepare for a fight. I keep myself in shape during Ramadan but of course I can't train enough. I was offered a fight right at the end of Ramadan but it's a bad timing for me as I'll be starving for one month. The end of August, beginning of September will be fine."
Sitting at No. 4 in the UFC's lightweight rankings, Nurmagomedov believes he's just a fight away from a title shot.
"I need another fight before I can fight for the belt. [Gilbert] Melendez is fighting [Anthony] Pettis so the next fight for a champion will happen in May  or so. I can't wait that long. I need another fight before the end of 2014. If Allah gives me a victory then I'll wait for a title fight.
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Get well soon.
Great news today from Doc...no surgery needed on my shoulder right now. Thank u everyone for the support!!— glover teixeira (@gloverteixeira) May 14, 2014
To clear up any confusion.
Wow, some people don't listen to what I say, they just "assume". This is what I meant and you can get that from... http://t.co/LYLLDhxkGe— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) May 14, 2014
This guy insisted that I fight. This guys called me when I was at my lowest point everyday. This guy... http://t.co/skAQwhaAO2— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) May 15, 2014
This got mean, quick.
Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) May 14, 2014
Miesha Tate (@MieshaTate) May 14, 2014
Jessica Eye (@jessicaevileye) May 14, 2014
Thanks everyone for the B-day wishes. Found my first chest hair today. Growing up. Feel like i'm gonna get my man strength finally.— Urijah Faber (@UrijahFaber) May 15, 2014
Bless this cat.
Cats > Dogs http://t.co/9vRyu2VruN— Nick Newell (@NotoriousNewell) May 14, 2014
(4) I'm still here; still learning, still improving. There's more to come. I'm not done yet.— Rosi Sexton (@RosiSexton) May 14, 2014
Get it together, bros.
@DiegoSanchezUFC I tried to text you?— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) May 15, 2014
@DiegoSanchezUFC ya i text tou at like 3:30? My bad bro. Ill make it up to you i promise— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) May 15, 2014
Sounds like New York Ric.
Fight week poutine.
Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) May 15, 2014
Joseph Benavidez (@JoeJitsu) May 15, 2014
It's tough out there.
Lol @danawhite blocked me. I think all my fans was getting to him and didn't want to here my name anymore, if he just listen 2 them.— Tim Sylvia (@timsylviamma) May 10, 2014
Announced yesterday (May 14 2014)
FANPOST OF THE DAY
Today's Fanpost of the Day comes via Graham Douglas.
Dan Miragliotta is the best ref in MMA. He possesses one key intangible. It's called decision making. He has an uncanny ability to step in at the right moment to stop a fight. It's never too early and it's rarely if ever too late. His timing is impeccable and should be recognized and rewarded.
To say a ref is the best in the business should mean that they rarely make mistakes when it comes to stopping a fight. You can't teach it. It's clearly a judgement call that even the so called best MMA refs have struggled with. Look at some recent fights in the UFC and the questionable stoppages in some of the biggest fights.
Being a referee in any sport is thankless. You want pressure? Make a call late in a game that's going to most likely influence the outcome of a game. When you're talking MMA, the pressure is tenfold. Some refs to me get caught up in the magnitude of the moment and that clouds their judgement on when to stop a fight or to let it go on. It's even more difficult a decision because MMA fighters are incredibly tough and can withstand more punishment than most other humans.
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.