"When I said I'd fight anybody on any notice, obviously there's a better matchup you can have on nine days' notice than Khabib himself," Horcher said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I try to keep to my word, if I tweet about it, or say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it."
Horcher (12-1) and his management set the bait expecting that the UFC would get someone else to fight the 22-0 Nurmagomedov, who needed an opponent at UFC on FOX 19 when Tony Ferguson dropped out last week. He figured his best bet to get a UFC fight would be to sub for whomever ended up fighting Nurmagomedov.
"My thought was, we'd throw my hat in the ring for Khabib, they would pull somebody else for him, and hey, maybe that would give me my chance at that gentleman's opponent," Horcher said. "I thought, 'ehh, maybe they'll put someone more experienced in with Khabib, then they'll throw me in there with another guy.'"
Instead, Horcher, who works for a sheet metal company in Pennsylvania while also racking up win after win on the regional circuit, found out he got the biggest possible fight for this Saturday night in Tampa.
"I didn't even think about it at all until they called me and said I had it," he said. "They called and said you got a fight in the UFC."
The bout will be contested at a 160-pound catchweight, an allowance for Horcher, who wasn't training for a fight and had gotten up to 181 pounds. He's doing his best to scramble to prepare for the fight.
"The short-notice thing isn't a huge deal," said Horcher, who has won five straight fights. "But, for someone like that it would be nice to have something like a camp. I've been training four times a day since I got that call, but what are you going to be in a week to be honest?"
He also admits he doesn't know as much about his opponent as you might expect for someone as high-profile as Nurmagomedov.
"I know he beat [current champion Rafael dos Anjos], I watched that fight, so I vaguely remember that," Horcher said. "But I don't really watch footage on my opponents ... I just know that he's a good grappler and an explosive striker and he's ranked where he is for a reason. I just have to train hard and go in there with my head clear."
Horcher also knows, like fellow high-profile, short-notice subs Patrick Cummins and Ilir Latifi before him, he's going to get grief from fans who don't think he belongs. But Cummins and Latifi both turned out to be solid additions to the UFC roster, so Horcher, who signed a multi-fight UFC contract, plans to simply tune out the online noise.
"I know there's going to be a lot of haters. Khabib's a big name, he has a lot of fans, i don't need to read it, I don't need to deal with it. I turned it off and stopped paying attention." Horcher said. "I fought in Bellator, prior to that I fought regionally. A lot of the fanboys, a lot of the keyboard warriors don't know who I am. That's okay, I understand that and will just brush it off and move on."