Javid Basharat promises to put bantamweight division on notice on UFC return

Javid Basharat returns to UFC action against Tony Gravely at UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Song on Saturday evening – feeling ready to put the bantamweight division on notice.

The Afghan prospect who also takes pride in representing the UK having moved here as a refugee with his mother and brothers at the age of five – extended his unbeaten record to 12-0 on promotional debut against Trevin Jones back in March.

Having now been joined in the UFC by younger brother Farid, who won in style on Dana White’s Contender Series in midweek, Basharat is ready to build on his accomplished debut performance while sending a warning to ranked contenders.

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Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Sport, Basharat said of his UFC debut: "It felt great to have people understand who I am.

"I got to showcase a well-rounded game against a very dangerous opponent. After that people have realised that I'm a contender in the bantamweight division and one of the best prospects in the UFC.

"I've known this for years – but now on the world stage everyone knows it. These guys have all this power but it means nothing unless you hit the target. I'm super elusive and they will feel that when I'm in there."

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Appropriately nicknamed the Snow Leopard, with Afghanistan one of only a handful of countries inhabited by the rare mammal, Basharat showcase his elusive style against Jones earlier this year and is now looking to force a fight with a ranked opponent.

He adds: "I'm looking for a ranking 100%. I'm not on the lower tier calibre. If they want to give me easy money I will take easy money all day no problem, I just want to get fights and get them quickly. But the way it's going is people are turning me down.

"That's why I haven't had so many fights. I've been ready to fight – I wanted to fight on the London card in July – it looks like the lower tier guys aren't willing to take me."

Now aged 27, as well as having a younger brother pushing him on in the same weight division, Basharat has set a short-term target for getting into contention for the belt – which will be put on the line between champion Aljamain Sterling and former champion T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 280.

Basharat continues: "I feel like I have 18 months before I'm in that title picture."

Saying of his partnership with Farid: "We have each other and we feed off that. Our styles are very similar yet very different. He has good and bad qualities as do I.

"We brainstorm and improve from each other. It's like him being on one side of the bracket and me being on the other side of the bracket. That's how it's going to be No1 and No2."

Before refuting a potential professional match-up between them by saying: "I'll fight my brother everyday in my house or in the gym – but to do it for people's entertainment it's… there is principles to it. My parents didn't raise me that way."

In regards to his upcoming opponent, Basharat is ready to put on the sort of clinic that demands attention from the top contenders: "I personally wanted this fight with Tony Gravely.

"I don't have anything against him but I wanted to prove to everyone against this stylistic wrestler, with everyone saying that I don't know how to wrestle, let's see who the better wrestler is. I'm going to put the whole division on notice."

Watch UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs. Song at 10pm (12am main card) on Saturday 17 September on BT Sport 3HD and across digital platforms.

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