Ilia Topuria is confident in not just his ability to beat Ryan Hall at UFC 264, but also his ability to completely disarm Hall of his devastating weapons.
Topuria (10-0) and Hall (8-1) will square off at UFC 264, which takes place this weekend (Sat., July 10, 2021) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, streaming on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) and headlined by Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 3. Most fighters would dare not engage with Hall on the ground, but Topuria is confident he can negate the grappling ace’s most dangerous tools.
“I always say the same thing, I’m ready to fight for the belt on July 10. My preparation is going very well and I feel very, very confident. I feel so confident that I can start the fight in 50/50 position and he can’t do anything with me,” Topuria told MMAMania.com. “Of course, my game plan isn’t to grapple him, but if I have to do it I have no problems. If he is going to the ground all the time, I will go on the ground with him. I don’t have any respite for him. There is one fact that maybe no one knows. My coach, Augostine Clements, his coach in one of the BJJ championships in 40-seconds with a leg lock. Maybe history is going to repeat itself.”
It will be almost two years to the day since Hall has last competed in UFC, a unanimous decision win over Darren Elkins. Hall has had three fights canceled since that time and there is a lurking concern among mixed martial arts (MMA) fans if this fight will see the light of day.
“I feel so ready right now at this moment. I’m ready to fight anyone. But I don’t want to fight anyone who is behind me. I want to fight someone next to me in the rankings. If they give me someone next to me in the rankings, of course, I’ll accept the fight,” Topuria shared. “I was supposed to fight in May but the UFC offered me a guy who no one knew. I got a call about fighting Ryan and I said, he’s not in the rankings but everyone knows about him. I said I’d prefer to wait until July and smash his face.”
Topuria, a proud dad, also revealed if fatherhood gave him the sort of competitive X-factor that fans often attribute to “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone’s last surge of wins.
“Once you feel it, it’s an amazing feeling,” he gushed. “Some people told me before I had my son that it’s difficult and it may not be good for my training, but it changed my life in a positive way.”
Topuria says he feels championship ready for July 10, and if things go as planned he hopes to see gold wrapped around his waist by the end of 2022.
“I want to stay humble. I don’t talk because I want to copy someone or something like this. I talk because I train every day, I work every day. That’s why I have so much confidence in myself. I think the next year — if everything is going well and I don’t have any injuries — I think next year I can be the UFC champion.”
Topuria is a perfect 2-0 in the Octagon with a first-round knockout over Damon Jackson and a unanimous decision win over Youssef Zalal in Oct. 2020. Hall has not lost a professional fight since his debut in 2006, defeating Elkins, B.J. Penn, Gray Maynard and Artem Lobov during his UFC tenure.
UFC 264 takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 10, 2021. The PPV card is headlined by a highly-anticipated trilogy fight: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 3.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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