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UFC on ESPN 38: Mateusz Gamrot says he's here to challenge the best

All paths have led rising Polish lightweight to Saturday's UFC on ESPN 38 main event.

Mateusz Gamrot's first UFC main event doesn't come as a surprise. The exciting lightweight has expected to be in the position from the minute he set foot in the trademark UFC octagon.

After falling short in his UFC debut against Guram Kutateladze in 2020 Gamrot went on a tear, finishing veterans Scott Holtzman, Jeremy Stephens and Diego Ferreira in three consecutive bouts.

Those performances helped catapult Gamrot (20-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) into the lightweight rankings and rewarded him with a main event slot opposite Arman Tsarukyan (18-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC). It's where Gamrot has always expected to be, and he couldn't be more excited to compete with someone of Tsarukyan's caliber.

"This is going to be the biggest test for me but I'm super ready and super excited. I want to step into the octagon and show that I'm a different animal than him," Gamrot said. "I am here to challenge the best."

With just four fights under the UFC banner thus far, UFC on ESPN 38 might be the first time that some MMA fans see Gamrot compete. His name has somehow stayed somewhat under the radar despite his emphatic victories, but that's not necessarily a bad thing to Gamrot.

If he's being honest, the spotlight and attention isn't something that truly matters to him. What he's focused on is testing himself and his skills against a worthy opponent.

Gamrot believes Tsarukyan fits that bill, noting that both lightweights have excellent wrestling credentials and can persevere through adversity in a fight. The American Top Team and Red Dragon Gym prospect sees the bout being the type of fight that brings the best out of him over the course of 25 minutes.

"I am dangerous as a striker, and in wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but I don't want to finish the fight too early. I want to show a lot of violence for five rounds," Gamrot said. "A 25-minute distance is the biggest test for my mind and for my heart, but I've fought the distance a couple of times. I like this distance and I like when I can accelerate. I believe in my stamina and my conditioning because this is going to be key."

Defeating Tsarukyan, especially with a fourth win by stoppage in a row would propel Gamrot into true lightweight contender status. Despite what's at stake, Gamrot isn't feeling the pressure at all. He's just excited to show that he's leveled up since beating Ferreira and continue establishing himself as one of the best in the world.

"This Saturday night I want to show the best version of my life," Gamrot said. "I'm used to being a champion. I'm used to the pressure. Fighting five rounds is my favorite distance and I am for sure in my prime. Not just physically, but also mentally."

Gamrot's best so far has happened inside the UFC Apex and he's happy that his first UFC main event takes place in the building where he has all his UFC victories. How he extends his UFC Apex record to 4-0 is up in the air, however.

"This is an honor that I can fight in the main event in UFC Apex in Las Vegas. This is my favorite place. I won here three times before this (fight), and I want to repeat this on Saturday night," Gamrot said. "I'm a true sportsman, so it doesn't matter how I win – by KO or to submit him. For me, the most important thing is winning the fight and I want to beat him in five rounds and that's it.

"I'm very well prepared for five rounds, but if I see an opportunity early, I will take it."

This story first published at UFC.com.