Bookings in the UFC don’t always come around again if cancelled. In the case of Rafael Fiziev, he feels lucky one did – twice.
A rising lightweight contender, Fiziev (11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) is happy the UFC rebooked him to fight former champion Rafael dos Anjos at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 39 after their original meeting fell through.
Originally slated to headline a Feb. 19 event, the matchup was delayed to UFC 272 in March due to Fiziev’s visa issues. Shortly before that fight week arrived, Fiziev tested positive for COVID-19, and the matchup was scrapped.
“When this fight happened a second time, and he agreed to fight, I thought, ‘Wow, he agreed,’” Fiziev told reporters including MMA Underground at a UFC on ESPN 39 news conference Thursday. “I’m happy for this because I think after he fought (Renato) Moicano he’d say, ‘I don’t want to fight with him again. Why do I need it?’ But he said yes, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s good.’ He’s a man.”
After Fiziev’s withdrawal, dos Anjos fought fellow Brazilian Renato Moicano. Dos Anjos won a dominant decision. Dos Anjos is 2-0 since he returned to the lightweight division in 2020.
Fiziev thinks his Brazilian opponent is a stern test. He’s excited to show fans what he’s capable of doing against top-tier opposition.
“I like the challenges and this guy is a big challenge,” Fiziev said. “That’s why I’m more happy because he’s a former champion and I (want to) try my skills on a guy who already (had) gold on his body.
He later added, “He’s got good skills and that’s why I’m more than happy because this is a really big test for my skills. I’m excited to test for my skills.”