Having won the battle for “Best Rafael” at UFC Vegas 58, lightweight Rafael Fiziev has moved on to heavy-handed strikers, namely Justin Gaethje.
Fiziev called out the two-time title challenger following his fifth-round stoppage of ex-champ Rafael dos Anjos. This was not the call Fiziev made to Rafael Nadal, the tennis legend, just moments before his victory at UFC APEX.
“I would like to fight Gaethje. “Nadal is funny … but Gaethje, if he wants to fight -what camera do I need to [look at]? yeah, this one. …”
Fiziev shifted directly to a reporter’s camera.
” “If you’re ready, if you don’t fear, if you aren’t scared, let’s go,” he said. If you are ready and not afraid, let’s take a ***,.
The 29-year-old striking specialist from Kazakhstan clarified his request isn’t capitalizing on perceived weakness. He believes Gaethje would be just as hard of a challenge as dos Anjos.
” I think he makes me face as hard, if not harder,” Fiziev stated. “He’s dangerous. He’s a big challenge for me. There is a good chance that he will knock me out and there are a few chances for him to win. But yeah, that’s a good fight, for fans also.
“He have s*** kicks, but he has good power in his hands.”
At the very least, it would get Fiziev’s manager and coach going, though that isn’t anything special. Fiziev was in deep water with former champ dos Anjos and his corner advised him to move more politely. He wasn’t thinking about whether or not he was ahead, but that sure changed when he answered the bell for the final round of the fight.
“In Round 5, my friend and manager and corner, he started to talk to me like his dog, and he started to say to me bad words,” Fiziev said. “‘He said, ‘Hey, what the f*** are you doing? Go in and f*** him up, or I’ll f*** you up when we go back to the hotel.’ I think, oh, I need to go to Round 5 and do something. … He always talks with me like this.”
It worked. In the first round’s opening exchange, a left hook landed dos Anjos and then he was knocked out by a right. It was Fiziev’s sixth straight win in the UFC and likely will bump him up in the top-15; he’s currently No. 10 is the MMA Fighting Global Rankings.
Saturday’s victory serves another purpose, said he. It shows the world he’s ready for a title-length fight – and a title-worthy opponent.
“It’s a big difference [fighting five rounds], but yeah, I’m tired,” he said. But I managed to get a finish in round 5. This means something – I can fight five rounds.”