Youssef Zalal might be in the conversation to be the UFC’s newcomer of the year.
Zalal made his Octagon debut at UFC 247 in February and scored a decision win over Austin Lingo. Youssef then followed that up with a win over Jordan Griffin in June and a win over Peter Barrett in August. For many fighters, getting three fights in a year would be plenty. Yet, for the 23-year-old in Zalal on Saturday he will look to make it four.
“It has been crazy. I was looking for a fight last year and now all of a sudden I’m fighting in the biggest promotion on the biggest stage,” Zalal said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “It shows what patience and dedication do for you.”
On the main card of UFC Fight Island 5, Youssef Zalal is taking on short-notice replacement Illia Topuria. For Zalal, he will remain at featherweight for this fight and says that is his weight class from now on after talking to the UFC PI about a possible move to 135.
“I went to the PI and did some testing. They told me I had to be 0 percent body fat to make 135 and it is not worth it,” Zalal said. “For me, we decided to stay at 145. My team didn’t think it would be a good idea to literally kill myself to just have a size advantage.”
For Youssef Zalal, he is hoping he can get his first UFC finish but the main goal is to get his hand raised and improve to 4-0 in 2020. He will also be fighting on a brand new contract after already fighting out his first.
“This is my new contract, first fight on my new contract. I had three fights in six months. I love fighting for the company and I am changing my life,” Zalal concluded. “It is just another opportunity for me to go out there and do what I am good at.”
Who do you think will win, Youssef Zalal or Illia Topuria?