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Back on track at last, Siyar Bahadurzada targets Matt Brown next, UFC title by 2019

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UFC Fight Night: Volkov v Struve
Siyar Bahadurzada (right) taking on Rob Wilkinson at UFC Rotterdam on Sept. 2
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Siyar Bahadurzada can’t wait to make up for lost time.

Competing for the first time since March 5, 2016 — a span of 546 days — “The Great” needed a little over eight minutes to finish Rob Wilkinson in their middleweight bout at UFC Rotterdam, which took place at the Ahoy Rotterdam in The Netherlands on Saturday.

Bahadurzada confirmed at the post-fight presser that he will drop back down to 170 pounds for his next fight and he wants to test himself against veteran Matt “The Immortal” Brown.

“I think Matt Brown will be a good fight,” Bahadurzada said. “He says that he’s immortal, but I will show that he’s pretty much mortal.”

It makes sense that the 33-year-old Afghan fighter would target a peer known for his resiliency, as Bahadurzada himself had to fight through adversity just to get back to competition. An illness removed him from a UFC 201 booking in July of last year, and he’s also had to deal with injuries that kept him from out of the cage.

Bahadurzada is confident that his health problems are behind him and he wants to book another fight as soon as possible.

“It felt great because I’ve fought only twice in the last four years,” Bahadurzada said. “The reason is because I was sick and injured sometimes and I wasn’t able to perform. But I corrected the mistakes and I figured out what I was doing wrong. I corrected it, I’m back, and now I’m here to stay.”

Now that he has his first UFC winning streak, Bahadurzada believes he’s on the path to the highest honor one can achieve in the promotion, though he offered a measured prediction as for when he expects to have gold around his waist.

“I’m back with a vengeance to achieve my dream and I’ll be the champ by 2019.”