Jack Della Maddalena says ‘dream matchup’ is Shavkat Rakhmonov in five-round title eliminator

February 23, 2024 5:10 pm ET

Jack Della Maddalena has mapped out his path to a title shot through one of the sternest tests in the division.

Della Maddalena (16-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) takes on former title challenger Gilbert Burns (22-6 MMA, 15-6 UFC) at UFC 299 on March 9 at Kaseya Center in Miami.

If Della Maddalena gets past Burns, he’s eyeing his Kill Cliff FC teammate Shavkat Rakhmonov (18-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) next.

“My dream matchup is, yeah – fight Shavkat Rakhmonov in Perth, (Australia,) would be my five-rounder for the title eliminator,” Della Maddalena told Submission Radio. “I think he’s the toughest fighter in the division outside myself. I think that’s where the big challenge lies. Obviously, of course, Gilbert, I’m looking at that 100 percent. But if I think of the next toughest guy, yeah: Shavkat Rakhmonov.”

Della Maddalena thinks a win over undefeated Rakhmonov should guarantee him a title shot.

“I like the challenge,” Della Maddalena said. “I think he’s one of the most challenging guys outside of the champion. But I think that sort of fight, (if) you beat Shavkat, there’s not much else you can do except take a title shot.”

After a furious start to his UFC career, Della Maddalena’s past two fights have gone the distance in tightly contested wins over newcomer Bassil Hafez and Kevin Holland.

He intends on making a statement against Burns.

“He’s very good at MMA. He mixes it up well, he’s aggressive, and I think one of his best things is his toughness,” Della Maddalena said of Burns. “I think he’s going to be a hard man to beat. But yeah, I’m gunning. I want to get the finish. … I need to finish. You know, I’ve been lackluster in my last two fights – two split decisions. I’m gunning for the finish.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.

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