As he explains it, the absence wasn’t something he had intended.
“It was not like I did not want to fight, I wanted to fight, but I just could not find an opponent. I didn’t have any managers, so I was working on getting a fight on my own.”
Unable to find the right opportunity in MMA, Sharipov tried another combat sport.
“I was doing a lot of professional boxing while I had my layoff from MMA,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “I had four professional fights in boxing.”
Not only did Sharipov give traditional boxing a try, he was also involved in the inaugural Bare Knuckle Boxing (BKB) event earlier this year, where he won his five-round fight via unanimous decision.
“I thought it was going to be without gloves, that’s what I signed up for, but the commission didn’t approve it, so we fought with gloves with exposed knuckles,” he said. “It was different. There was a ring with no ropes and you had stand in the (center of a lowered) pit and if you stepped out it was considered a knockdown.
“Actually, after the fight, my hands were a little bit swollen because the knuckles went through the gloves and you hit with the knuckles. It was fun and I like to fight, I like to compete, so anything that comes (of it), I would like to do.”
Sharipov (13-5) will finally return to MMA Friday night as he takes part in the first round of a four-man tournament to determine the new XFC 145-pound champion against former TUF alum Stephen “Big Fish” Bass (10-1).
“I just need to be aggressive and want it a little bit more than my opponent,” said Sharipov. “I’ve got to go out there and be me, do everything I’ve worked on and be smart.
“I’m going to be in good shape, but it’s not only about physically (in shape). You can be physically ready, but if your mind is not fit, it can be big trouble, so I’ve got to be focused and concentrate on this fight.”
While he’s firmly focused on Bass, Sharipov does have one singular goal for his return to MMA: become a champion.
“This is a four-man tournament. The guy who wins this fight advances to the title fight. So I’d definitely love to be the one fighting for the title and we’ll go from there,” he said. “Once I get the title, I’d like to defend the title, if everything goes to how I wish.”