“This Is the Same in My Country”: Rafael Fiziev Compares Khabib Nurmagomedov & Dagestan MMA Fans’ Response With His Home Country Kyrgyzstan Ahead of UFC 286

Published 03/16/2023, 4:45 PM EDT

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UFC 286 promises an epic rematch between two of the best welterweights in the world right now, as Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman square up for the third time in the octagon. Overshadowed by this massive fight is a card packed with bouts that could serve as the headliner for an event on its own. And the most promising out of the pack is certainly the co-main battle between Rafael Fiziev and former interim champ Justin Gaethje.

Heading into the fight, both fighters have displayed extreme confidence, with Gaethje even calling himself the most entertaining fighter in the UFC. On the other hand, the Kyrgyzstan-born Fiziev seems to have drawn inspiration from his fans back in his homeland. The sixth-ranked lightweight while expressing his nation’s love for the sport, compared it to the story of Khabib Nurmagomedov and his support in Dagestan. Naturally, similar support like that means that ‘Ataman’ will walk into the octagon, expecting nothing short of a spectacular victory as he closes the gap at the top of the lightweight division.

Rafael Fiziev on the similarities between Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Dagestan and his home country


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Talking about support back in his home country, the 30-year-old explained how combat sports were all the rage in Kyrgyzstan. With a massive fan following for the sport, Fiziev stated that many of his countrymen would tune-up for his fight because of this reason.

“…in my home, many people watch my fight. Because in my home in my country, we love the sport, we love the combat sport, we love the UFC. And many people love the UFC.” said the Lightweight.


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He drew comparisons with Dagestan and the manner in which they rallied behind Khabib Nurmagomedov whenever ‘The Eagle’ fought; and in doing so, Fiziev seems to also find the confidence that he would defeat ‘The Highlight’ or anyone for that matter.

“UFC now already you know because Khabib and Dagestan all this… this is same in my country and I hope they enjoy it and I hope I make them happy.” expressed Fiziev.

Fiziev believes his fight IQ and technique will prove too much for Justin Gaethje at UFC 286

Another reason for his belief that he had a clear upper hand on the American was down to his experience as an amateur fighter. Although he did commend Gaethje‘s heart as a fighter, ‘Ataman’ clearly didn’t seem too impressed with his opponent’s MMA career.

“I think we have same heart. He likes to fight with the heart, he likes to pressure. But still he have like how many 25 fights in MMA? But I think it’s still not enough for me. Because I have big, big amateur career, where I have like close to 300 fights in my life.” he stated.

Read More: “Don’t Wanna Let Him Breathe”: Rafael Fiziev Sends Stern Warning to Justin Gaethje Ahead of UFC 286

But for the sixth-ranked lightweight, it was his fight IQ, that he believed would make all the difference.


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 “My IQ I believe it’s 100% much, much better than his, and also my technique is more; [I’ll] have more something special moments for him.” Pointed out Fiziev, as he emphasized his technical superiority over his opponent.

And fans might even agree with this fact as well. Since Gaethje aims to create highlights and KO reels, much like his nickname, Fiziev‘s composure might just make a crucial difference during the fight.


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Who do you think takes the win here? Will Ataman’s technique reign over Gaethje? Or will ‘The Highlight’ make yet another highlight as he has done earlier?

Watch This Story: Why is Leon Edwards’ Name “Rocky”? Does it have a Sylvester Stallone Connection?


Written by:

Pragjyoti Singh


One take at a time

Pragjyoti is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. He is extremely passionate about MMA and has a good understanding of the sport and its technicalities. Having trained in the sport along with a passion for journalism, it has helped him develop a keen interest in the UFC and anything related to the promotion.
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Edited by:

Vineet Nandwana