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Ian Machado Garry reveals what happened in training sessions with Shavkat Rakhmonov

Ian Machado Garry wants to set the record straight with Shavkat Rakhmonov.

This past Saturday, Garry secured his eighth straight UFC win, taking a unanimous decision over Michael Page on the main card of UFC 303. The win moved Garry to 15-0 in his MMA career, and afterward, “The Future” threw out a possible matchup with fellow undefeated contender and former training partner Rakhmonov as his next possible fight. Speaking on The MMA Hour on Monday, Garry explained what he likes about the matchup.

“I’ve trained with Shavkat,” Garry said. “I’ve got nothing but respect for Shavkat and everything that he’s done. For someone to be 18-0 and have 18 finishes, it’s pretty remarkable. What I don’t want is for him to fight anyone else and lose that 0. I want to be the guy that, if someone’s going to take it, let it be me. That’s the challenge that I see.

“When I look at Shavkat, he’s by far the most dangerous guy in the entire division at the moment, other than, with respect, the champion. But he’s the most feared at the moment — 18-0, 18 finishes. We’ve not seen anyone cause [him] much trouble. Geoff Neal and him had a great fight back in December. But the point is, that’s the opponent I want to look toward. That’s the excitement I’m ready for, fights like him. That build-up, that skill set — where is he going to try and beat me? Is he going to try and beat me on the feet or is he going to try out-grappling? If so, I need to get better in both areas, because I want to beat him in both areas.

“These are the fights that excite me, and beating someone like Shavkat and taking his 0, it excites me. It gets me hyped.”

For his part, Rakhmonov seems willing. Following Garry’s callout, Rakhmonov tweeted a response, suggesting he got the better of Garry in their training sessions and wouldn’t mind reminding Garry about that. But Garry says that’s not really what happened.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Garry said. “There was one. There was one I remember. We were tippy-tapping. We had a fight on the same night. It was when he fought Geoff Neal and I fought Kenan Song, and [Kill Cliff FC coach] Henri Hooft came over to me and goes, ‘I understand you two are both competitors, you both have a fight, both you are on the same team, go f*cking light. I want you to just touch each other, keep active, give each other good looks, and that sort of thing.’

“We sat there and we were playing around, moving, being good training partners, and I threw a right body kick at him and caught it, and he stepped back and looked at me and went BOOM [punching motion] to the f*cking rib. I was like, ‘You dirty littly c*nt! [Smiling.] You f*cker, you just took the wind out of my rib.’ I was like, ‘Alright, come on,’ but Henri said, ‘Stop it. Don’t be f*cking around, you two.’ It was playful, it was fun, but that’s it.”

On top of this story, Garry also acknowledged that Rakhmonov got the better of him during their grappling sessions together; however, Garry says that was more than a year ago and things are different now. Besides, Garry believes he has his own advantages as well, which is what makes the fight so compelling.

“When it comes to striking, I’m faster than him, I’m more technical than him, I’m more talented than him,” Garry said. “Is he amazing? Is he fearless? Absolutely. But I know for a fact, if this fight’s on the feet, I’m the one with the advantage.

“When it comes to grappling? He absolutely had the grappling advantage over me when we trained. He was a far superior grappler. I say ‘was’ because I’ve been doing a majority of work in Brazil focusing on becoming a far superior grappler.

“So the fight, to me, it’s exciting, it’s interesting. I know where he’s good, he knows where I’m good — let’s go out there and have some fun and put on a show for the fans. It’s not often you see undefeated vs. undefeated at this high of a level in the division. The only way I see it being better is if he’s the world champion and I can take his 0 when he’s got the belt.”

Whether or not the fight happens next is still very up in the air. Rakhmonov appears to be next in line for a title shot against the winner of the upcoming rematch between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad at UFC 304. But if that doesn’t happen for some reason, Garry says a fight between the two of them is a perfect No. 1 contender matchup.

“I think it has to be,” Garry said. “I would love two more fights before fighting for the belt, but if the opportunity to fight Shavkat is there, if the opportunity to go out there and take that 0, finish him, dominate him, get my hand raised in any way, shape, or form, I think it has to be a No. 1 contender spot. I think it has to be the winner of the fight goes and fights for the belt next.”

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