This coming weekend, Rafael Fiziev will go up against Justin Gaethje in the co-main event of UFC 286. This match is critical as Gaethje aims to recover from his loss to previous champion Charles Oliveira, while Fiziev hopes to climb into the top five of the lightweight division and contend for the championship himself. Because of this, Fiziev approaches this fight with a “take no prisoners” mindset.
“I’m prepared for the best version of Gaethje in front of me,” stated Fiziev during the UFC 286 Media Day. “I anticipate a difficult fight from him, with him being in the best shape possible. I’m expecting blood”.
“What happened with Charles doesn’t matter. I’m going to do my job. Whether it’s the first punch or the second, it doesn’t matter. I intend to capture his heart.”
Gaethje, a former UFC interim lightweight champion, is renowned for his thrilling performances during his fights.
During his own Media Day, he declared himself as the most exciting fighter in history, an assertion supported by the fact that he has been awarded Fight of the Year honors thrice since joining the UFC in 2017.
For Fiziev, who has been rewarded Performance or Fight of the Night bonuses in his last five fights, this match is unquestionably attractive.
“I can’t say that it’s just another fight,” Fiziev stated. “Of course, I’m thrilled. This opponent is widely recognized and famous. ‘Highlight’ is his moniker. However, it’s also my next fight. It’s both.”
“I’m going to perform as I usually do during this fight and demonstrate what an authentic highlight is.”
Another enticing component of this match is the prospect of a title shot following it. With a six-fight winning streak, a victory over the former interim champion would make Fiziev a compelling choice for the next lightweight contender.
Nonetheless, Fiziev acknowledges that he may not have the opportunity, as Beneil Dariush will take on former champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 288. “I believe that I deserve that title shot if I win,” said Fiziev. “However, the UFC will decide what happens.
However, if Dariush loses or the UFC decides to grant him the next lightweight title shot instead, Fiziev intends to do the same thing to Islam Makhachev that he plans to do to Gaethje this weekend.
“If it happens like that, I’ll do what I always do,” Fiziev added. “I just have to stop takedowns and do what I love doing: advancing and punching.”