SAN ANTONIO – Chidi Njokuani thinks he joined the UFC roster at the perfect time.
Although it took Njokuani (22-8 MMA, 2-1 UFC) 28 professional fights, the 34-year-old doubts he would have been able to handle the brighter lights and bigger paychecks as a young fighter.
In three UFC bouts, the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate has earned two knockout wins and three bonuses overall.
“I think I got here when I needed to,” Njokuani told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday for UFC on ESPN 43. “I think if I would have came when I was young and 20-something, I would have just messed it all up. You couldn’t give me that amount of money back then. I would have just messed everything up. … I would have f*cked it all up. You would have found me in a ditch somewhere.”
Njokuani will look to rebound from his first octagon loss to Gregory Rodrigues in a Fight of the Night clash this past September when he meets Albert Duraev (15-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 43 main card opener at AT&T Center in San Antonio. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN+.
With 14 knockout wins to his name, Njokuani expects Duraev to grapple him.
“I think anybody that fights me is going to try to be more grapple-heavy, regardless of what they did in their last fight,” Njokuani said. “So I expect him to come out and really try to like push the pace on the ground.
“I just want to be the best. I want to come out here and I want to beat everybody that they put in front of me. I want to do it in dominant fashion. I want to put on exciting fights. I want to just go down in the history books.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 43.