UFC news: Cage Warriors 'champ-champ' Mason Jones says he could beat Khabib [Exclusive]

UFC fighter Mason Jones celebrates winning the Cage Warriors welterweight title.

Khabib Nurmagomedov's shock retirement at UFC 254 has opened up the lightweight division, with the likes of Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson all vying for a shot at the title.

Among them is Islam Makhachev, a Russian mixed martial artist from Dagestan who also happens to be Khabib's teammate. 

However, he was forced to withdraw from the UFC Fight Night 182 main event with an undisclosed injury, so Paul Felder has agreed to face Rafael dos Anjos in a five-round fight this Saturday night. 

And that's without even mentioning Michael Chandler, the former three-time Bellator lightweight champion, who many feel is within touching distance of the title picture, despite the fact he is yet to make his debut inside the Octagon. 

Enter 'The Dragon' - Mason Jones has become the latest Welshman to win a UFC contract. 

Fighting out of Blaenavon, Wales, the Cage Warriors double champion hails from the same organisation that discovered fellow UFC fighters Nathaniel Wood, Molly McCann, Darren Stewart and Jack Shore.  

The 25-year-old follows in the footsteps of former 'champ-champs' Dan Hardy and McGregor to join the UFC after becoming a two-weight titleholder. 

Asked to share some thoughts on Khabib's retirement, Jones exclusively told GIVEMESPORT: "I actually do think Khabib has retired, I think he's one of those people that if he says something he sticks to it.

UFC fighter Mason Jones displays his Cage Warriors belts.

"Since his father sadly passed away, I just don't think it's been the same for him. 

"I really do think this is the end, I feel he will focus on cornering some of his teammates instead."

Jones, like the Dagestani wrestler, is currently undefeated with a perfect record of 10 wins and no losses, having beaten Adam Proctor in September to add another belt to his collection after stopping Joe McColgan on the way to the lightweight title earlier this year.

He currently trains at Celtic Pride gym, Abertillery, but has also trained at Team Alpha Male under UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber in Sacramento, California.

"I'd been training with Nad Narimani for a long time and Nad had been training at Team Alpha Male", Jones continued.

I was looking for gyms to go to, so I decided to try out Team Alpha Male and see how it goes. They said there would be someone waiting there to show me around. As I turned up, who comes strolling through the doors? Urijah Faber! 

"He's such a nice guy, showed me around the place, introduced me to everyone, and then Cody Garbrandt came over, who was world champion at the time. Cody took me down to the mats, introduced me to Andre 'Touchy' Fili, Chad Mendez, Darren Elkins - you name it.  

"Now I train with all of the top guys at the gym because they really understood how hard I work and we get on really well."

Jones believes he has to be a well-rounded mixed martial artist in order to compete with the very best fighters on the UFC roster. 

UFC fighter Mason Jones stops Adam Proctor in the main event of Cage Warriors 116.

He added: "All these different fighters have all these different styles and they're so good. You have to be good in every area to become the number one in the UFC.  

"I train with [Commonwealth gold medallist] Jamie Cox, who lost to George Groves in a world title fight, and you need to be able to box, grapple, kick and wrestle with world class Muay Thai kickboxers, Greco-Roman wrestlers, Sambo wrestlers, all these different styles.

"I adapt very well to my opponents. I will change styles completely to beat you, I can adapt to anything, that's my best skill. Making yourself adapt in training is the best way to identify mistakes in your game." 

When asked if he would like to have fought Khabib, his eyes lit up. 

"I'd beat Khabib," he said.

"It sounds crazy I know but I'd love to have been the first person to beat him.

There's hardly any holes in his game, but it's something I've spoken about with my coaches and we believe that you have to drown a shark to beat Khabib, which sounds crazy, but it's true.

"Maybe not now, but give me a couple of years, and you'll see."

Fight fans will be eager to see Jones step inside the Octagon for the very first time as only three of his fights have gone the distance so far.

As it stands, there's currently no word on when he will make his promotional debut, but he could make an appearance on the prelims for McGregor's mooted rematch with Poirier early next year.

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