by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy of ChechenFighters.com)

Polish fighter Mamed Khalidov has signed to fight for Sengoku. He will make his promotional debut on Nov. 7 when he faces middleweight champion Jorge Santiago in a non-title affair.

The news of Khalidov’s signing and subsequent match-up with Santiago were confirmed to MMAWeekly.com by his North American and Asian representative, Shu Hirata, who also works with his team in Poland, KSW.

American fans were introduced to Khalidov in October 2008 when he made his debut for Elite XC, defeating Jason Guida by TKO in the second round. Since that time, the Poland based fighter traveled home to compete in a KSW show where he defeated Daniel Acacio with a first round knockout.

With the recent expansion of Strikeforce into different markets, and several shows running between Showtime and CBS, it looked like Khalidov would be a great addition to the roster, but according to his manager, the timing just didn’t work out.

“Strikeforce did show an interest in re-signing Mamed when I spoke with their ex-matchmaker Bob Cook, but Strikeforce just didn’t have enough number shows in their 2009 calendar to accommodate Mamed, who wanted to fight couple more times this year,” Hirata told MMAWeekly.com in an exclusive interview.

Following his short stint in Elite XC, Khalidov was pursued by both Affliction and Bellator, but at the end of the day fighting in Japan made the most sense for the fighter and his future endeavors.

“About one month of negotiation, we did agree to the basic term and conditions, and Bellator did deliver the contract, however, since the start of the season two got postponed to April 1, 2010, we have decided to go with Sengoku,” Hirata commented about a potential deal with Bellator Fighting Championships.

Khalidov, who is a star in his homeland, has competed on his home camp’s cards with KSW several times, while also finding a home on Polish television through Polsat and Polsat Sport. His camp, run by owner Martin Lewandowski, who also just signed five-time World Strongest Man champ Mariusz Pudzianowski, will continue to support Khalidov as he makes his move to Japan.

“I hope that thanks to this fight I show what is the best in me and the same Japanese public and the owners of World Victory Road will focus more on KSW team fighters who are really good ones,” Khalidov said in an exclusive interview with MMAWeekly.com. “It is distinction and award for me and my trainers for years of hard trainings.”

For the fighter himself, he’s excited to compete and start with an extremely tough challenge right out of the gate in Top 10 middleweight Jorge Santiago.

“I am really happy about this opportunity to show my skills,” Khalidov commented. “I saw Santiago’s fights and I reckon he is very good fighter, finally he is a beltholder.”

While very excited for the chance to compete against Santiago, Khalidov admits there is some disappointment in the non-title fight, but if everything goes his way, a rematch for a championship shot would be a great honor as well.

“It would be nice to fight also for the belt, but fighting with such a gifted fighter gives me enough motivation,” he said. “It is God’s will, but I believe when I win I will get this chance to fight for this title one day.”

Khalidov also took the time to thank the people that helped him achieve his goal of signing with Sengoku, and what promises to be a bright future.

“I would like to thank my sponsor All Stars. In the same time I want to greet all my fans and ask them to keep their finger cross for me on Sengoku 11th,” Khalidov stated.

Mamed Khalidov will face Jorge Santiago on Nov. 7 at Sengoku: Eleventh Battle.