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Darrell Horcher on Khabib Numagomedov fight: Whatever happens it will 'jumpstart' my career

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

TAMPA -- Win or lose, fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov on short notice will "jumpstart" Darrell Horcher's MMA career.

Just two weeks ago, Horcher was sitting in his office at a sheet metal company in Pennsylvania. Today, he's preparing to fight arguably the best lightweight on the planet in the biggest MMA organization in the world.

This opportunity came about when Tony Ferguson, Nurmagomedov's original opponent, had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury. It was then that Horcher received the chance to fight the 22-0 Nurmagomedov at this Saturday's UFC on Fox 19.

"It's happened pretty quick, I haven't really had a chance to soak it in, but if I stop and think about it, I would agree with you [that this is a huge opportunity]," Horcher told the media at the UFC on Fox 19 open workouts. "It has definitely boosted my career. Nobody has ever made their debut fighting the number one guy in their weight class. So, yeah, I'm sure with a win it's going to jumpstart my career. As long as I look good it's going to jumpstart my career, whatever happens it's going to jumpstart my career. So I'm sure it will boost me ahead and get me ranked where I need to be."

Being just one day away from the fight, Horcher says he still hasn't fully realized what is going on because everything has happened so fast, but he sees an advantage in fighting on short notice.

"The easiest part about getting ready for a short-notice fight is that you don't have a build up mentally," Horcher explained. "There is no nerves, there is no anxiety. I'm a fighter that gets really bad anxiety from my fights. With short notice, there is none of that. I just got to get my stuff ready, get going, and we're going to fight."

If Horcher were to lose to Nurmagomedov this Saturday, he would still walk away with something he didn't have before, a UFC contract. But if he were to defeat "The Eagle," the biggest threat to the lightweight belt, you could make the argument that he would technically be the number one contender in the UFC's lightweight division.

"We've joked about it and I said when I beat him, I know there is a title shot on the fight for him," Horcher said. "I should get that but I'm realistic and I know that's not going to happen. With a win, I'd like to see at least top 15, you know, I'm not going to push it whatever happens, happens but I have to fight first."

There is no doubt the 28-year-old American will be stepping in the octagon Saturday night as a heavy underdog. Despite being counted out by many fans, Horcher believes he possesses the power to stop Nurmagomedov's most effective weapon, his grappling.

"I consider myself to be well rounded," Horcher said. "I can do it all. Plus, I have power. I got power like nobody at 155 and you guys will see it.

"I think I touch him one time no matter where it is in the round and he's going to be a lot less eager to run in. I touch people and that's just what they do. Their whole game plan changes."

Although the undefeated Nurmagomedov is the last man to defeat the current lightweight champion and is considered one of the most dominant fighters in the division, Horcher sees him as just another man.

"He's just a man. He can be beat like anyone else. He bleeds like I bleed. I can be beat like anyone else. That's the sport, anything can happen. All I got to do is just touch him once and it's my night."

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