Gaziev competed as an amateur through 2019, amassing a 7-2 record and multiple regional IMMAF titles, earning all of his victories by stoppage before turning pro in 2020. The wins and finishes kept coming, and after running his record to a perfect 10-0 as a professional with a first-round stoppage win over UFC veteran Darko Stosic at Brave CF 69 early last year, the hulking heavyweight, originally from Dagestan, was invited to compete on Season 7 of Dana White’s Contender Series.

The first punch he threw put Greg Velasco on the canvas just eight seconds into the bout, and while the American was able to quickly take Gaziev’s back, it wasn’t long before the undefeated heavyweight was able to turn into top position and go on the offensive. He passed the guard effortlessly and then climbed into mount, forcing Velasco to give up his back, where the choke came quickly, ending the fight.

As strong as his contract-winning effort was, Gaziev’s UFC debut three months later was even more impressive.

For his first foray into the Octagon, Gaziev was paired off with fellow DWCS grad Martin Buday, who entered on a 12-fight winning streak, having registered those last four victories since matriculating to the UFC. After eking out tepid decisions in his first three outings, the Slovakian heavyweight was coming off his most impressive performance to date — a first-round submission win over Josh Parisian that finally started earning him some buzz as a fighter to watch in the heavyweight ranks.

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Gaziev wasn’t bothered in the least.

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