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Aleksa Camur brings youth and excitement to a division in dire need of both

Dana White’s Contender Series - Camur v Cherant Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC

Just moments after Aleksa Camur finished his opponent on the Contender Series this past summer, his teammate and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic immediately called UFC president Dana White telling him to sign the 24-year-old prospect from Ohio.

In reality, Miocic’s plea probably wasn’t even necessary considering Camur strutted into the fight with a perfect 4-0 record with four knockouts and he capped that off with a fifth straight KO — this time with a flying knee and a barrage of punches on the ground.

This weekend at UFC 246, Camur makes his official Octagon debut as the featured fight on the early prelims where he faces Justin Ledet with another chance to shine under the spotlight. Considering it’s his first fight in the UFC, Camur could have easily been relegated as the curtain jerker for the show, but instead he gets a high-profile spot on one of the biggest cards of the year as Conor McGregor makes his return to action in the main event.

None of this is lost on Camur, who appreciates the faith that the UFC is putting in him to deliver a jaw-dropping performance.

“Honestly, it is cool,” Camur told MMA Fighting. “I think it’s a good card for me to be on. I’m excited for it. I’m stoked. I didn’t know when I was fighting because the lineup was all over the place. I didn’t know I was going to be the final fight on the early prelims until a few days ago.

“I’m excited to put on a show and thankful that they would put that faith in me as well.”

The expectations surrounding Camur are definitely high not only because he’s one of Miocic’s main training partners but also because the light heavyweight division sorely needs a youthful injection.

The average age of the top 11 fighters according to the UFC rankings (top 10 and then champion Jon Jones) is 33 years old. The youngest member of the line-up is the fighter ranked No. 10 with Aleksander Rakic about to celebrate his 28th birthday in a few weeks.

Now it’s fair to mention top 15 prospect Johnny Walker is also 27 years old. However, he was the last fighter who had a ton of hype heaped on him after his arrival in the UFC but suffered a stunning first-round TKO loss to Corey Anderson this past November.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Jon Jones has already beaten five of the top 10 fighters in the division with a sixth opportunity coming at UFC 247 when he faces Dominick Reyes. If he wins that fight, Jones is looking at almost a completely bare cupboard in terms of interesting opposition awaiting him.

As a highly touted prospect in the division, Camur understands the pressure that comes along with expectations that he could eventually become one of those contenders. Thankfully no one is more aware of what it takes to get there than Camur himself.

“I do hold myself to a high standard but that’s the type of person I am,” Camur stated. “I’ve always done that. I’ll take nothing less than perfect if I can do perfect. When it comes down to performance and how I perform, people do have high expectations for me. Just because where I train at and who I train with and I think I hold high expectations of myself.

“I’m just going into the fight with the mindset that I want to have a good time. Have some fun in there. I’m finally where I need to be and now the hard work begins.”

With only his sixth professional fight coming up this weekend, Camur isn’t trying to call out fighters from the top 10 just yet or make bold proclamations that he’s going to be champion by a certain date or time.

He just knows that the light heavyweight division has been painfully shallow for some time and there may be no denying a quick rise up the ranks.

It’s part of the reason why he’s determined to put on an impressive showing this weekend as he officially introduces himself to the 205-pound division.

“I definitely think it is a big deal,” Camur said. “I’ve been treating it like I only have one option. I’ve got to go in there and I’ve got to get that win. I think I have the right mindset going into it. It’s a little nerve-racking but it helps me in the cage once it’s all said and done. I’m ready for it.

“I do think it’s a big deal but my No. 1 thing is just going out there and getting that ‘W’.”

If all goes well against Ledet on Saturday night, Camur would love nothing more than to keep an active schedule in 2020 with his next targeted date a little closer to home with the upcoming UFC on ESPN 8 card from Columbus, Ohio.

“In a perfect world, that would probably be the plan,” Camur revealed. “If everything goes well and I plan on it going well, go in there and get the job done. I’m not looking past my current opponent. My eyes are focused on one task this weekend at UFC 246. But I wouldn’t be opposed to a quick turnaround in Columbus.”