It’s been eleven months since last we saw Canada’s Aiemann Zahabi in action. The question is, why?
“I’ve been having a hard time getting match-ups. I don’t know how the whole system works exactly, so we were looking for a manager this time, and we settled with Daniel Rubenstein,” Zahabi (9-2) told The Top Turtle Podcast on Cageside Press in a recent interview.
Rubenstein heads up Ruby Sports & Entertainment, and Zahabi opted to move to him after years of relying on his coach/brother Firas and friends to manage his fighting career. “So now I signed with him, and this is going to be our first time working together. And then hopefully after this one, he’ll be able to get me a second one without taking a year.”
Zahabi enters UFC 289 on a two-fight win streak, and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Ultimate Fighter winner Ricky Turcios.
In Vancouver on Saturday night, Zahabi is paired up with Aori Qileng, a Mongolian bantamweight on a two-fight win streak of his own. Getting to fight at home again has Zahabi “super excited.” Even though he has enjoyed fighting at the UFC Apex, which he noted “caters” to fighters.
“I’m happy to represent Canada. I grew up here, born and raised here, I love Canada. Canadians are fantastic people, and it’s just a great way to represent the country. I’m wearing them with me in the cage.”
As for his upcoming opponent, “I’m prepared for 15 minutes of hell with this guy. I know he does change it up a little bit, but something I noticed, when the fight gets hard or it’s not necessarily going his way, he walks you down,” noted Zahabi. “And he just fires himself up and he goes in to trade. Kind of what I was expecting from Ricky.”
Zahabi is prepared for all options, but if the fight gets touch for Aori, Zahabi believes that “he’s going to be like a bull in a china shop, and I’ve got to be a matador.”
Watch our full interview with UFC 289’s Aiemann Zahabi above.