MMA / russia

Prospect Profile: Rafael Fiziev
If you're planning to tune into the UFC St. Petersburg card on Saturday, there's a high chance that there will be a plethora of names that you won't recognize. The card features a whopping 7 fighters making their UFC debut, and all of them are international prospects. Of the 7 debutantes, none are more enticing than Rafael Fiziev, who opens the card against Magomed Mustafaev at 155 pounds. Fiziev was a name that went largely unnoticed outside of the international scene until recently, a firecracker of a striker who seemingly came out of nowhere. For most people, this clip served as the introduction for Fiziev, taken from one of his numerous Muy Thai bouts. Fiziev's matrix-esque maneuver went viral after UFC President Dana White tweeted it out with the caption "this is the craziest shit I have ever seen!" and garnered a lot of hype about his potential for a run in the UFC. True to form, that clip, combined with his undefeated record, would net him a spot on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series last year, although Fiziev would later be forced to withdraw. Regardless, Dana White was enamored with Fiziev's potential and signed him to a contract earlier this year with the intent to showcase him on the Russia card. While Fiziev may come off as yet another "undefeated Russian hype train (although he's actually from Kyrgyzstan)," he seems to have the skills to back it up. Although to this point he has only had 6 professional bouts (winning all 6), he has over 40 muy thai victories (29 by KO), as well as extensive experience in jiu-jitsu tournaments. As for his fight style, Fiziev is a supremely confident striker, capable of exploding in bursts and combinations in the blink of an eye. He's aggressive, but not overly so, willing to pick his shots (I like to think of him as a more-disciplined Lando Vannata), and has shown to be equal parts flashy and substantial. This can be seen in his fight against Seung-Yong Kim over in Korea, a fight in which he actually broke his hand. Fiziev's ground game and gas tank will likely be his biggest question marks in his UFC career. While Fiziev has extensive fight experience, his 6 MMA bouts are against so-so-at-best competition, and none have gone over 6 minutes. He figures to have at least some ground game, given his jiu-jiutsu experience, but the biggest question will be if it is UFC-caliber. The power that he's showcased is legitimate, with all 6 wins ending in KO or TKO, but the question becomes if that power will still be there past the five minute mark. Look for these questions to be answered quickly on Saturday morning when Fiziev makes his UFC debut against fellow explosive striker Magomed Mustafaev. Expect some fireworks, and don't be too surprised if you see Fiziev's hand raised when all is said and done.

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