Albert Tumenov made headlines last week when he raised his hand to volunteer to face Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 26. Cerrone is without an opponent after his original scheduled competitor, Diego Sanchez, was abruptly cut by the UFC.
A replacement for Sanchez has yet to be confirmed. Albert Tumenov would be a surprise selection for the organization for a number of reasons. The main one would be that Tumenov is currently not under contract with the UFC. He left the company a little over four years ago after failing to agree terms on a new deal.
Fans were disappointed to see Albert Tumenov depart. He was an entertaining young Russian dynamo. It seemed as though he was set for big things with the UFC but a two-fight losing skid preceded his exit. Since then, Tumenov has been on a five-fight win streak. During that run, he picked up the welterweight title at Russian MMA promotion Absolute Championship Berkut (ACB).
However, Tumenov vacated the belt in late 2019 to test out his free agency. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, the 29-year-old said that a return to the UFC is potentially on the cards, and that he's striving for a rematch with an old foe.
'Leon Edwards will be my first target to beat before winning the title' - Albert Tumenov sets his sights on a rival from his previous tenure
Sportskeeda: Your call-out of Donald Cerrone was met with great excitement by fans. Is it encouraging to see that UFC fans want to see you back in the organisation four years after you left?
Albert Tumenov: Yes, I am very pleased that MMA fans want me to return to the UFC. I will do my best to live up to their expectations.
S: This callout isn't your first in recent times. You also volunteered to fight Leon Edwards in December. Are you in talks with the UFC about returning?
AT: Yes, my managers are negotiating with the UFC. When I return to the UFC, Leon Edwards will be my first target to beat before winning the title.
S: Your cited reason for leaving in 2017 was the 'unacceptable' terms offered in a new contract. Can you elaborate on this and whether the situation has changed since then?
AT: When I left the UFC, I was young and inexperienced. I did not have a professional team and my managers could not agree with the UFC. I received a good offer in Russia and we decided that we would return to our homeland for a while to gain experience before returning with renewed vigor to the UFC.
In the answer to Tumenov's next question, he addresses the rebranding of ACB to ACA (Absolute Championship Akhmat), which occurred during his time there.
S: You vacated the ACA welterweight title in November 2019 to test free agency. Can you give us a recap of what organizations you've spoken with since then and what your training has been like?
AT: When I won the ACB title, the ACA defended the belt. My team and I decided to return to the UFC, I had a lot of offers in America, and even now I have very favorable conditions. But my goal is the UFC belt, so I haven't played for so long.
UFC fans will hope that Tumenov can succeed in his goal to return to the organisation. However, a rematch with Edwards - who is No. 3 in the welterweight rankings - seems a long way off.