In the second round of his featherweight fight against Jordan Griffin at UFC on ESPN 12, Youssef Zalal felt the momentum shift to his favor.
“As soon as I started landing my right hand, I figured out he was very confused in my switching stances,” Zalal told media outlets including Cageside Press backstage at the UFC Apex. “I kept hearing his coaches yell, ‘he’s right handed, he’s right handed, he’s right handed.”
It was all the motivation the Moroccan fighter needed to keep focusing on those stance switches. And it led him to a unanimous decision victory on Saturday in Las Vegas, his second straight inside the octagon. Two wins so far this year, and a third on this current streak, dating back to his time with LFA.
Not a bad start to his UFC career for the 23-year-old, who is now 9-2 overall. And while Youssef wasn’t 100% happy with his performance, he knows that means room for improvement. And overall, he fought a good fight opposite a dangerous opponent.
“You don’t see a lot of 23 year olds, staying active taking short notice [fights]. I don’t have to take this short notice, you know, especially against a guy who’s 18-7,” Zalal observed. “His two first fights are against ranked featherweights, so for me to go out there and really just to step up and really show my game and and my knowledge of mixed martial arts, it’s a good thing.”
Anybody who fights him, added Zalal, “it’s not going to be an easy cardio day. I don’t care if even if you’re winning. It’s not gonna be fun for you, fighting me. I’m a little African-Moroccan kid, man. That’s all we do. I’m skinny. I’m not the power guy, I’m not the fast guy, but I’m coming for those lungs, I’ll tell you that.”
In the future, that skinny frame may lead to a move to bantamweight. “I really think about that bantamweight division. I can really go out there and really do some noise down there.”
Watch the full UFC on ESPN 12 post-fight press scrum with Youssef Zalal above.