Rafael Fiziev will get the biggest fight of his UFC career on March 18 when the promotion makes its highly anticipated return to London for UFC 286.
Headlined by a trilogy bout between current UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards and former titleholder Kamaru Usman, the co-main event will feature Fiziev stepping into the spotlight against perennial lightweight contender Justin Gaethje. Mere weeks out from the high-stakes matchup, Fiziev sat down with the hosts of Submission Radio to share his thoughts on finally getting such a high-profile fight.
“I feel perfect,” Fiziev said. “Excited. For me, it’s first fighting [Rafael dos Anjos] and now it’s Gaethje. Fighting with these legends. It’s crazy to me. I can’t believe, you know? When I go into the cage with Justin, when I see him in front of me in the cage, it’s still like, ‘Wow.’ I go fight with Justin because I seen him a long time ago when I was just trying to go into the UFC, thinking about the UFC every day. I seen how he fights. I seen his debut in the UFC and now I fight with him. That’s perfect.”
Can’t wait 👊🏼 https://t.co/FZcnzqsxCT
— Rafael “Ataman” Fiziev (@RafaelFiziev) January 19, 2023
Rafael Fiziev on Why He Targeted Justin Gaethje
Rafael Fiziev and Justin Gaethje have seemingly gone back and forth on Twitter and in interviews for quite some time, begging the question, why did it take so long for the UFC to put this fight together? While ‘Ataman’ couldn’t explain the delay, Fiziev revealed that he initially began targeting ‘The Highlight’ due to his lack of an opponent and top-five status.
“I seen that he didn’t have an opponent,” Fiziev said. “He didn’t have a fight so that’s why I started to call him [out]. I also have a win streak. My last win was with Rafael (dos Anjos). Also I think I deserve somebody from top five and that’s why I start to call him, I start to write him. Start kidding about him a little bit and yeah. We got it.”
Discussing Gaethje’s high-octane style of fighting, Rafael Fiziev was complimentary of his opponent’s work inside the Octagon but believes that fighting with nothing, but your heart comes with both positives and negatives.
“It’s a very good style,” Fiziev acknowledged. “It’s a very hard style. He fights with heart and everybody who fights with their heart has a big plus and a big minus. Big minus because he fights only with his heart. Big plus, you can’t break him because fights with his heart. It’s very hard to break his mind and break his heart. But, if you have good IQ. If you like this game. If you love to stay on the cage, you can beat him easily.”