Exclusive| Nate Maness believes he will pick up a KO win in his flyweight debut against Tagir Ulanbekov

Nate Maness, Tagir Ulanbekov, UFC
Mandatory Credit: MMA Junkie

Nate Maness is scheduled to face Tagir Ulanbekov on Nov.5 at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. The Tennesee native spoke with Lowkick MMA’s James Lynch about his drop to 125 pounds and mindset and preparations heading into his upcoming fight. 

Maness (14-2) is 3-1 since joining the UFC in 2020. Two of his three wins are second-round finishes against Luke Sanders and Tony Gravely. They both resulted in performance of the night honors. He is coming off a unanimous decision loss to undefeated prospect Umar Nurmagomedov in June. 

The 31-year-old will be making his flyweight debut next month. Maness has found success in two weight divisions– lightweight and bantamweight. He says his decision to drop to flyweight was based on him walking around lighter in the past few years. 

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You know how us fighters are. If we can make the weight class below us, we’re going to give it a shot,” Maness said. “Weights coming off perfect. I’ve been working with UFC nutritionists at the PI, so they’re making everything smooth for me and we’re definitely going to hit the mark.”

Nate Maness on Flyweight Debut: “I’ll Gain a lot of Weight Back Before That Night”

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt is confident that his experience in heavier weight classes can prove beneficial in his flyweight debut. He believes he could have a strength advantage over natural 125 lb fighters.  

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I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and I still feel strong. I still feel like I’m hitting hard. I think it’s going to translate,” Maness said. “I’m always going in there to throw but being at 125, I think I can be a little bigger, a little stronger than some of these guys. [I] might even work in some of my wrestling and jiu jitsu so we’ll see what happens.”

He will compete against Tagir Ulanbekov, who trains at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. The Russian native (13-2) is a prospect of Khabib Nurmagomedov and a teammate to Islam Makhachev. Ulanbekov is 2-1 since making his UFC debut on Fight Island in Oct. 2020. He is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Tim Elliot at UFC 272. 

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Maness is looking to make adjustments inside the octagon against Ulanbekov. With a more relaxed mindset, he predicts he can add another finish in his UFC career. 

I just got to put everything together. I really don’t think I’ve had that show stopping performance in the UFC yet,” Maness said. “I’m trying not to go in there as focused on the game plan, just letting the fight come to me and being a little bit more relaxed but I’m always going to call a second or third round knockout.”