At 35 years old, Sergei Kharitonov isn't exactly a spring chicken.
Still, the Russian-born fighter could definitely bring some added depth to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight division had he chose to sign with promotion earlier this year.
But, according to Kharitonov, one of the reasons he passed on the promotion is because it doesn't seem to be in a hurry to crown its first-ever Russian champion. As he sees it, his fellow countrymen (cough, Khabib Nurmagomedov, cough) are fighting and winning with no championship fights in sight.
"To be honest, I just think that the UFC does not need a Russian champion. This conclusion I made a long time watching this promotion. Our guys are fighting, fighting, and do not get a title shot. But we are trying. Sooner or later," Sergei told MK (via Bloody Elbow).
Of course, Nurmagomedov has been sidelines for quite some time, so that could be a reason.
For Kharitonov, another reason for not inking a contract with the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the world is because he'll lose out on the freedom to fight as much as possible.
With no exclusive contract holding him back, Kharitonov can fight for as many promotions as he wants; just as he's done over the past two years.
Because fighting once a year for one comapny isn't his style.
"As for me, I am 35 years old, I am no longer a young athlete. If I sign a contract with the UFC, they will give me one fight a year," said Kharitnov.
"And now, in the previous two years, I've had almost seven bouts. Therefore, I believe that I chose the right position. I stand where I want and where I am given the opportunity. I fight at the same time with worthy men."
It's not to say he wouldn't consider re-thinking his position. Of course, UFC would have to guarantee him three fights a year, one of those potentially being a title shot.
"I would want a contract for one year with three fights, which provided I win the first two, grants me a title fight."
And just to sweeten the pot, Kharitonov already has a win over current 265-pound champion, Fabricio Werdum, defeating him under the PRIDE FC banner almost a decade ago.
Something he says he wouldn't mind doing again.