Nazim Sadykhov of Russia prepares to fight Ahmad Hassanzada of...

Nazim Sadykhov of Russia prepares to fight Ahmad Hassanzada of Afghanistan in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series at UFC APEX on Aug. 16, 2022, in Las Vegas. Credit: Zuffa LLC/Chris Unger

As “dreamy” as he felt his last fight went, Nazim Sadykhov understands that win to earn his place on the UFC roster did not fulfill his dreams. It simply moved him one step closer.

“The dreams are the money for me,” said Sadykhov who lives in Massapequa and trains under Ray Longo and Matt Serra. “The dreams, that is what this is about, achieving those dreams. Dreaming like a little kid, getting the excitement of your country and your city, New York, Azerbaijan, everybody proud of you, that is the dream.”

Those dreams began as a young boy growing up in Azerbaijan when his father started him in martial arts. They continued when he and his family emigrated to Brooklyn 20-plus years ago, and began to take shape as he embarked on his amateur and early professional career in mixed martial arts.

Now they appear more in reach as Sadykhov makes his UFC debut against lightweight Evan Elder on the prelims of UFC Fight Night at the Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday. Sadykhov (7-1) is on a seven-fight win streak, including three straight knockouts.

Elder (7-1), from Stockton, California, made his UFC debut last April and lost a unanimous decision to Preston Parsons. Sadykhov, 29, doesn’t put much stock in that fight since it was a short-notice bout and took place at welterweight. He expects to see the best version of Elder on fight night “because that’s how I’m showing up, so I just take it that everybody else is doing the same thing,” he said.

Sadykhov earned his way into the UFC with a third-round knockout of Ahmad Hassanzada last summer on Dana White’s Contender Series, a show where rising prospects compete in the octagon and try to impress the UFC president enough to get a contract. A win doesn’t guarantee a deal. A win like Sadykhov’s, however, pretty much does. He dropped Hassanzada with a body-head combination after an impressive showing in the first two rounds.

“The whole thing of walking out, fighting in front of the people you grew up watching like Dana White and [Michael] Bisping, and Bisping commentating your fight and then literally hearing him as I'm landing elbows and he's going ‘Ohhhh!’ they're all grunting, all the commentators, all those little experiences, they were dreamy,” Sadykhov said. “I wasn't thinking about anything but winning in that moment, but I remember a thought breezed by like ‘Bisping’s liking these elbows.’

“It's all something I worked for my entire life, but for it to be in front of your eyes, it’s like a dreamy, dreamy feeling.”

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