Contender Series 31 headliner Dennis Buzukja predicts first-round finish of Melsik Baghdasaryan

Dennis Buzukja may only be 22 years of age, but he’s right where he wants to be.

Buzukja (4-1), the son of immigrant parents from Albania, has a massive opportunity in front of him when he headlines Dana White’s Contender Series 31 on Tuesday night.

The young Serra-Longo prospect will take on kickboxing champion Melsik Baghdasaryan (4-1) in a matchup that he expects to play out primarily on the feet at the UFC Apex.

“I like to strike (and) he’s definitely a striker,” Buzukja told MMA Junkie. “It’s gonna be a technical fight, high-level. You’re gonna see some spinning stuff from both of us, you’re gonna see some grit and it’s gonna come down to who wants it more, really, and I’m going in there to kill him. I’m sure he’s going in there to kill me so I think that’s why they knew that and that’s why they made this fight the main event.”

Despite COVID-19 hitting his home state hard, It’s been an incredible 2020 for the Staten Island native. Buzukja claimed the Ring of Combat featherweight title in February, then went on to sign with Paradigm Sports Management, home to the likes of UFC superstar Conor McGregor and current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

It all appears to be happening quickly for Buzukja, but he is no stranger to the big stage. He scored a first-round finish in his pro debut at Bellator 208 in 2018 and has an army of Albanian fans that fly in every time he competes. Even with no crowd permitted inside the UFC Apex on Tuesday, Buzukja says around 50 people will still make the trip out to Las Vegas to support him.

“I knew it was only a matter of time,” Buzukja said. “My managers and my team were in the talks with the UFC, with Shelby and with Dana. I knew it was a matter of time because of the COVID situation, they need guys a little more so I think everything happens at the right time if you believe it to be, and I think that’s what’s happening now. I think it’s my time, and I’m going to go in there and take what belongs to me.”

With all of Buzukja’s finishes dating back to his amateur career coming in Round 1, he’s expecting another fast finish as he hopes to impress Dana White and secure a UFC contract.

“I’m gonna finish him, I’m gonna knock Melsik out in the first round, and I’m gonna have my hand raised no matter what,” Buzukja said. “Whether it’s on the feet or on the ground, I’m gonna smash him and put him away in the first round.”

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