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Alatengheili is on mission to make top 15 after UFC 279 victory

Chinese bantamweight prospect will not rest until he finds his name in the rankings.
alatengheili

Ask how Alatengheili is doing the Tuesday after his UFC 279 fight against Chad Anheliger, and you can tell how things went just by his response and the tone of his voice.

"I'm just taking a break right now," he said through a translator. "I feel wonderful and I'm just preparing for my next fight."

"Wonderful" is the right word to use after a stellar effort that saw him shut out the surging Canadian, who had won 10 straight heading into the bout at a sold-out T-Mobile Arena. It was the 30-year-old bantamweight's first fight in front of a crowd since his second UFC bout – and win – against Ryan Benoit in 2019 in Busan, South Korea.

"Last time was my first pay-per-view and, it's like a dream come true," he said. "I feel really grateful, and I feel great about it."

And even while getting the win and taking care of business was paramount, he did find some time to be a fan while competing on the same card as some of his favorites, like headliners Nate Diaz and Tony Ferguson.

"These are my favorite fighters," he said. "It's my honor to be on the same stage with them. I'm very happy with it, and also very happy with all the fans."

At the rate things are going for the native of Nei Mongol, China, he may soon find himself in a position where younger fighters are looking up to him and trying to follow in his footsteps. Owner of a 16-8-2 record, Alatengheili didn't hit his stride until he signed on the dotted line to compete in the UFC, where he is currently 4-1-1 in one of the promotion's toughest divisions. And even more accurately, things really started to accelerate when he began training in Arizona with the Fight Ready squad a little over a year ago.

"This team has been helping me since the first day I arrived in the U.S.," he said of his move to work with the team. "I get along with them really well and I adapted to the training and the team. This is the main reason I came here. For me, living in the U.S., the teammates are better and they help me with all the aspects of the sport and all my skills."

In 2022, Alatengheili has won twice, first knocking out Kevin Croom in less than a minute before defeating Anheliger. It's proof that everything is working for him, even though it was hard to leave home.

"My family are very supportive of my career and my success," he said. "For me, the biggest obstacle is that I miss my family, and it's going to be a long time to see my family. But for this last fight, my brother came all the way to the U.S. to support me from China and I feel very, very grateful."

Seeing his brother was a bonus for a fighter who is settling in to life in Arizona. He says he loves the lifestyle in the States and even found some solid Chinese food spots, even though he admits it's totally different from home, where he also prefers Mongolian food, fitting for someone dubbed "The Mongolian Knight."

But if you think he's going to stretch out the celebration from his recent win and take a vacation back home, that's not the case.

"I will not go home until I get top 15 in my weight class," said Alatengheili, a young man on a mission to bring China its second UFC world title. And if that means being far away from home and sacrificing time with his family, so be it. He's got work to do, and it's already started.

"If it is possible, I would like to arrange another fight for this year, and maybe then in another two or three months, I will achieve the goal we mentioned," he said.

This story first published at UFC.com.