Raufeon Stots Ahead of Bellator 264: “Everybody wants the next Khabib”

Raufeon Stots
Weigh-in photo courtesy of Bellator MMA

When Raufeon Stots steps in the cage Friday at Bellator 264, he’ll be facing his toughest challenger to date. The Bellator bantamweight currently holds the #4 ranking in the division and is riding an impressive 8-fight win streak. He possesses two wins over fellow ranked bantamweights and with a win against his next opponent, #3 ranked Magomed Magomedov, he will be set up as the #1 contender at 135lbs. 

Raufeon Stots vs. Magomed Magomedov

Magomedov is 18-1 as a professional and holds a split decision victory over former UFC champion Petr Yan. He’s a highly regarded former ACB champion that hails from Russia, and with the recent influx of signings in Bellator, is one that is getting a promotional backing. However, that isn’t seeming to phase Stots.

“I definitely feel like Magomed is getting the push.” Stots was in good sprits of course, even referencing Will Ferrell in Zoolander. “I feel like Russia is so hot. The Dagestani and the Russian people are killing it in the MMA world. Everybody wants the next Khabib to emerge. By no means do I care, I hope you push him really high so people can see how good I am.” 

Like most of the Dagestan fighters, Magomdeov is best known for his elite wrestling. What makes the matchup so intriguing is that Stots, a two-time Division 2 National Champion at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, feels that he has the advantage everywhere.

He stated, “To be honest, I feel like I have advantages everywhere. I feel like I have advantages in the striking game. My style of striking is kind of a fit for grapplers. Also, my wrestling and my awareness of where my wrestling is and what I can do with my wrestling. I also feel like I’m more athletic and the stronger guy.” 

The Roufusport fighter was complimentary of Magomedov, acknowledging a significant aspect of his game. “What he does have over me, I feel, is the years of Sambo competition. So he’s been training kind of MMA wrestling longer than me.” Stots was pleasant and forthcoming, which for a fighter who’s about to enter the gruesome nature of a weight cut, was appreciated.

On A Collision Course?

One of Raufeon Stots’s main training partners, Sergio Pettis, possesses the 135lb championship. As Stots has made his way into the top five of the division’s rankings, the questions have begun to arise about a potential showdown. This is by no means the first time a situation like this will happen, nor the last, but Stots has come to terms with the idea. “I accept the fact that this is a business. That’s what we train each other to do. We train each other to be the hardest people to kill in the division. Whether we like it or not, it’s going to happen.” It’s not something that appears to be a problem between the two at the moment. 

“I feel like as far as me and Serg you know, we’re not concentrated on that. We’re still concentrated on making each other the best we can make each other. Which is cool, you know what I mean? It’s not like weird. Who knows if it will ever get weird. But we know that’s an option. I got a tough fight ahead of me. We’re going to play it one step at a time.” 

Bellator 264 is being held at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. It can be seen on Showtime with the main card beginning at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT. It will be headlined with a middleweight title bout at stake. Gegard Mousasi will look to defend against challenger John Salter. In the co-main event of the evening, welterweights Sabah Homasi and Andre Koreshkov will compete. Raufeon Stots will challenge Magomed Magomedov in the featured bout on the main card in what could end up being a title eliminator. 

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