by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Under its new Zuffa ownership, World Extreme Cagefighting has begun to stockpile some of the best young talent in MMA and become a true developmental proving ground for the sports’ next solid hopefuls.

Among that group, which will be on display this Saturday at The Joint in the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, will be Alex Serdyukov.

Serdyukov, a Siberian immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for 10 years, has previously competed in the WEC and now hopes to begin to take the next step in his young career towards a possible title shot in the promotion’s stacked 170-pound weight class.

To get there though, Alex must first go up against undefeated wrestling standout Scott Norton on Saturday and prove he deserves to be among the top WEC welterweights.

Shortly after arriving in Las Vegas, Serdyukov spoke to MMAWeekly to discuss his background, his fight against Norton, and where he’d like to see himself in the future.

MMAWeekly: First off Alex, for the fans that might not be familiar with you, tell us how you got into MMA.

Alex Serdyukov: I’ve been training since 2000. I started training with [UFC/PRIDE veteran] Fabiano Iha back in the day. Chris Brennan had a school nearby, so when Fabiano was only teaching two times a week I started training with Chris Brennan. Just training Jiu-Jitsu, I hadn’t done anything [else] before that, no wrestling or anything. I did some [grappling] tournaments and did good in them, so I was invited to the fight team.

From there it just took off. Then Jeremy Williams, one of Chris’ students, and I went with him. He’s been my coach for the past four to five years. About a year ago I moved up to San Francisco where I train at Fairtex with Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez, and Cesar Gracie’s guys and sometimes AKA [American Kickboxing Academy] guys.

MMAWeekly: So what kind of skills can fans expect to see from you at a show?

Alex Serdyukov: I’m a brown belt in BJJ, that was my main skill four or five years ago, but I’ve been training a lot of Muay Thai. So much so, that I have a Muay Thai coach from Fairtex. I haven’t wrestled that much, like I didn’t wrestle in college, but I train with great wrestlers. So skills, I would say submission grappling and Muay Thai. Those two are pretty equal, I like to stand-up as much as I like to go to the ground.

MMAWeekly: Now this is your first fight of the year, after being forced off the last WEC card due to injury. Tell us what happened and why you weren’t able to fight Carlos Condit then.

Alex Serdyukov: I was supposed to fight Carlos Condit in January, but I had consecutive injuries. I injured my knee, then my hip went out, my rib; I just felt like my body was getting injured because I was training too hard. And then the week before the fight I separated my shoulder.

I was like, “I can’t fight,” and I’m sorry to Carlos that I had to do that, because I never would have done that a week-to-ten days before a fight. I’ve recovered and I’m back again and I’m ready to fight and win.

MMAWeekly: Interestingly, Carlos is fighting on the same WEC card this weekend for their 170-pound championship. Would you like to eventually have that fight happen?

Alex Serdyukov: Definitely…he’s fighting John Alessio, who I already fought [in the WEC last August] and I’m really encouraged to see this fight and see how it’s going to go. I spoke to Carlos this morning, we chatted a little bit, and I spoke to John too, so I would definitely like to fight both of them.

One of those guys is going to win Saturday night and be a belt holder, so I’d love to get a chance to fight for the belt. That’d be a great opportunity for me. I’m 100% positive that I’ll get to fight one of those guys.

MMAWeekly: Okay, let’s talk about your fight this weekend against Scott Norton. What are you expecting in this fight?

Alex Serdyukov: First of all I expect to win. My opponent is kind of a dark horse, I don’t know much about him. He’s a star wrestler and supposedly he likes to stand and throw, which is perfect for me. He has a good record, he’s 7-0 I think in MMA, but everybody who he’s fought has a losing record. So I definitely feel I’ve fought better competition out there. I think I’m going to be Scott’s toughest trial by far.

MMAWeekly: Should all go well against Scott, what are your goals afterwards?

Alex Serdyukov: I train with really top guys, with the best people out there. Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, once in a while with Nick [Diaz], so I definitely feel that I’m out there and I’m at the top level of competition and ready to fight anybody.

The 170-pound division is a very tough weight class. It’s just a stacked weight class; there are a lot of good wrestlers, strikers, and you can say that there’s no easy fights. Every fight I train really, really hard for and I expect I’m going to do good and I expect a lot from myself. I’m peaking right now. I’m in the best shape, I train hard, I’m young and I’m ready.

The goal is to fight in the UFC – that’s everybody’s goal. The UFC is the biggest show out there and I’d love to fight in the UFC. I take every fight seriously, one fight at a time, this fight first and definitely go step by step and fight in the UFC. I’m gaining more experience, knowledge, and soon I will definitely be ready to fight in the UFC.

MMAWeekly: Thanks for your time Alex; is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?

Alex Serdyukov: I’d like to thank my biggest sponsor right now, Fairtex. They take care of me; they’ve been great to me. Everybody at Fairtex, the trainers, the fighters, everybody has taken such great care of me. I’d like to thank another one of my sponsors, TopFighters.com, one of my best friends, my manager Debi Purcell, and the fans. I have a lot of people supporting me for this fight, a lot of people coming out to the show and supporting me, thank you.

The fans, they’ve got to come out and see the show. It’s going to be an awesome show. The card is good, there’s going to be a lot of great fights. I’m really pumped up [about it] and you’ve got to come see it and check it out.