UFC Fight Island 2: Despite Extensive Muay Thai Career, Rafael Fiziev Feels His Striking Needs More Work

Rafael Fiziev is not yet a household name among MMA fans. However, the lightweight from Kazakhstan, who trains in Thailand with Tiger Muay Thai, is a combat sports veteran. Fiziev (7-1 MMA) had dozens of Muay Thai fights as a pro — and hundreds when you include his amateur record.

Which, you might think, would give him a clear edge over the rest of the UFC’s lightweight division. Maybe even put him at the top when it comes to striking.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I need more work,” Fiziev said at the UFC Fight Island 2 media day. “Need to go up more,” he added. Something that will require him to put the work in every day.

And so Fiziev allows that his upcoming opponent on Fight Island, Marc Diakiese, is equally as skilled. “Yeah he’s a good striker. He has good basics. He has many, many dangerous techniques. I don’t know how to say it — he’s dangerous too.”

“But… But…” he added. He may very well finish that statement come fight night, but there’s a notion that on the feet, despite his humble response, Fiziev is as dangerous as they come.

Fiziev returns this weekend as a somewhat short-notice replacement for Alan Patrick against Diakiese. Originally, Fiziev had expected to feature in the UFC’s debut in Kazakhstan. That was scratched due to the coronavirus. His UFC Fight Island 2 main card fight, however, almost feels like an upgrade, given how many eyes have been on the Abu Dhabi shows this month.

Of course there’s the question of preparation for the card. Short notice, in a pandemic, in Abu Dhabi, where he’ll be fighting early in the morning, to ensure western viewers can watch the event at the usual hour.

“About my camp, about my training in the gym in Thailand, everything is good I think. Because Thailand has many good fighters, many good opponents, with them I train every day,” Fiziev noted. “In this pandemic, this quarantine, we train every day, non-stop.”

The time difference and how it plays into his fight with Diakiese is another matter. “About the time, this is not a comfortable time, because we fight in the morning. But we change, all day, we go to sleep early, wake up early too. Early morning.”

Fiziev feels he’s already adjusted to the time change. “I feel good.”

Watch the full UFC Fight Island 2 virtual media day press scrum with Rafael Fiziev above.