Despite a big win in his UFC debut, life hasn’t really changed for Mounir Lazzez. “Nothing’s changed. The media and fans, it’s always extra. I keep myself the same. Work hard, work smart. Work. That’s exactly what I do,” Lazzez told Cageside Press at a virtual media day for UFC Fight Island 8 recently.
Lazzez (10-1) returns against Warlley Alves, the Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 winner, on Wednesday. It’s a fight Lazzez stepped into on short notice, filling in for Christian Aguilera.
“I told the UFC ‘I’m here, just one hour away from Abu Dhabi. So just ring me any time,'” Lazzez recalled. With the promotion’s return to Fight Island to kick off 2021, the timing worked out perfectly. Especially given Lazzez stays active in the gym year-round.
Asked for his thoughts on Alves, Lazzez noted that “he’s a good fighter. He’s as well-rounded a fighter as me, so I’m expecting fireworks.”
And those fireworks will come with fans back in the arena — albeit in limited numbers. “I’m excited to and pumped to show my skill here, to compete in front of my people. Every day I get messages from people who got tickets to watch my fight live here in the octagon,” admitted Lazzez. But at the same time, he added, “I don’t let this pressure me or put stress on me.”
Of course, Lazzez will be the home town hero of sorts — the Tunisian trains out of nearby Dubai. That won’t change anything for him in the fight, however.
“The mission is same,” Mounir Lazzez stated. “Be calm and composed, deliver the win.”
UFC Fight Island 8 takes place Wednesday, January 20 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The main card kicks off at 12PM ET, live on ESPN (TSN in Canada).