Las Vegas, NV — A dream become real is how Rafael Fiziev described seeing his face on an event poster ahead of UFC Vegas 58.
“I have six fights in the UFC. Six, yeah? And I always put my [signature] someplace [on posters], and always somebody says to me ‘don’t put [your signature] on the face,'” Fiziev (11-1) exclaimed during Thursday’s media day promoting the event. “And I always want to sign on the face, like, I want to!”
This time out, Fiziev got to put his signature right where he wanted to, given it’s his face on the poster.
The Kazakh fighter is in the headlines like never before this week. That’s in part due to the main event billing at UFC Vegas 58, and in part because of an online exchange with Conor McGregor.
It all started when McGregor responded to a video of Fiziev showing off some matrix-like moves in kickboxing matches, suggesting that he’d modify the roundhouse kick Fiziev was dodging to an axe kick.
This is awesome. Change the roundhouse to an axe kick. Roundhouse into and axe kick and this defense eats the full of the heel.
I’m telling you. If their reaction to a high kick is this, implement the axe. https://t.co/Nxg0BemzoO
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 6, 2022
Fiziev, not surprisingly, questioned that approach, saying McGregor was in a fantasy world and inviting him train with him at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand. The exchange was more or less respectful, though the former two-division champ did add that Fiziev had “yet to do anything significant in this sport.”
On Thursday, Fiziev let it be known that he respects McGregor, though he questioned whether the Irish star was inebriated while tweeting.
“I respect Conor, he made big money for this business, and nobody made this like he [did],” Fiziev stated, after questioning whether a fight with McGregor would ever happen. “But before sleep, I think late at night, he drink first, and after maybe he smoke, and after he maybe like [makes sniffing sound/motion], and after maybe he has less, little bit of Proper 12, little bit again, and then ‘awwww’ he take phone and start to take a sh*t and—.”
Fiziev cut off there, asking if it was okay to swear. You get the idea. Despite the jab at McGregor using alcohol and drugs (at least according to Fiziev), the UFC Vegas 58 headliner insisted that he does respect Conor McGregor.
“I don’t disrespect him. I respect this guy. And I talked with him with respect when I invited him to Tiger Muay Thai, to my training camp, to train with us. We reach him real— how you need to kick, how you need good kicks, how you need to check kicks. We teach him good, you know? And I respect him. Maybe he thinks I don’t respect him, blah blah blah.”
Ahead of Fiziev is another former champion, Rafael dos Anjos. He sees a challenge in RDA, which is exactly what Fiziev is looking for.
“I like the challenges. I like the challenges, and this guy is a big challenge. That’s why I’m more happy, because he’s a former champion,” said Fiziev, noting that he now gets to test his skills against a fighter who has already held gold in the UFC.
And should he come out on top? He suspects the lightweights further up the ladder will start to make excuses.
“I don’t think about it now,” Fiziev replied when asked what might come with a win over dos Anjos. “I’m just sure, when I win this fight, these guys who stand on top of me, he will start running, and start to talk like ‘oh this guy needs to fight with this guy, this guy needs to fight with number 12, number 11, number 10, number bleh bleh, bleh bleh, bleh bleh, oh my head pain, my ass pain, my back pain, I have injury, my finger pain, in the training, like holy sh*t— that’s why I believe Sean Shelby, he [does] his job very [well], I’ll wait for him [to deliver] some news after this.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 58 media day appearance by Rafael Fiziev above. The event takes place this Saturday, July 9, 2022 at the Apex in Las Vegas.