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Coming into the biggest fight of his life, Rafael Fiziev looks to define what people perceive the Matrix is. Fiziev takes on Renato Moicano on UFC 256 and, with a win, will prove to everyone that he is one of the best in the division. As if Fiziev-Moicano wasn’t enough, UFC 256 has some of the best names on the card the UFC has to offer including a matchup between Junior Dos Santos and Cyril Gane, Mackenzie Dern, Peter Barrett versus Chase Hooper, Cub Swanson, and Gillian Robertson. It is all topped off by the champ returning, Dieveson Figueiredo, as he takes on Brandon Moreno. But it is the matchup between Fiziev and Moicano that I’ve pinned as my best shot at Fight of the Night.
At only 8-1, Fiziev has made a huge splash in the mixed martial arts world quickly. His fight with Moicano is going to open him up to many more fans on his biggest stage yet. Rafael Fiziev is a well known fighter in the Muay Thai world and his move over to MMA was only a matter of time. His beginning in fighting stemmed from his father at a young age.
“My first experience with fighting was when I was a kid and my father will give me and my cousins boxing gloves and tell us to do sparring. Usually I was the one who got his ass beat, but I was always fighting till the end with all my heart. I was trying to win but wasn’t successful, so I didn’t really like it. When I was teenager we moved from the village to the city and I was bullied at a new school, after that I decided to start training in Muay Thai.”
But, Fiziev wasn’t always training to be a Thai boxer. He wanted to be well rounded in multiple sports and be a complete martial artist. He practiced other sports like sambo and Jiu Jitsu in addition to his Muay Thai training.
“Since the beginning I was competing in different disciplines. Muay Thai was my foundation, but I also competed in combat sambo, boxing, hand to hand combat, and Jiu Jitsu. I did a bit of wrestling training too and was always close to mixed martial arts. Muay Thai wasn’t my only focus even in the early days.”
Even though he had trained other martial arts while he was Thai boxing, Fiziev notes that the transition over to MMA was not only in the grappling department, but being such a high tactician on the feet, he had to relearn how to strike in MMA and make adjustments there as well.
“Like I said, I was always trained in different martial arts even though Muay Thai was my foundation style. The biggest challenge was to get my wrestling and grappling skills to a higher level. Also grappling is not the only difference between MMA and Muay Thai or kickboxing. There’s different dynamics of the fight and distance, so I had to adjust my striking too.”
I have an extra desire to fight him, I want to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I’m ready to fight and to beat opponents of this level.Rafael Fiziev on fighting Renato Moicano at UFC 256
Fiziev’s hobbies outside of fighting still involve his hands. The Kyrgyz has a career after fighting and is already laying the foundation to continue doing something he loves when he’s done fighting.
“I like blacksmithing, I like cold steel arms. Maybe when I retire I will dedicate myself to that craft. I also like to cook different food, I guess you can call it my hobby.”
And of course, Rafael Fiziev trains at Tiger Muay Thai in Phucket, Thailand. Boasting names like Petr Yan, Valentina Shevchenko, Timofey Nastyukhin, Muhammad Mokaev, the list just goes on. You can see the top talent at Tiger Muay Thai become great fighters as well. They start there and grow there. Fiziev believes Tiger Muay Thai is a special place and is happy to call that his home gym.
“When Thailand borders were opened, Tiger Muay Thai had an extra large amount of high level fighters. You can find high level wrestlers, grapplers, and strikers from all over the world. The reason why everyone is coming here, obviously, is high level training, an environment where you can work hard, get better and reach your goals. Also it’s a great place not only to work hard, but to relax and recover too. People here are kind, friendly and always smiling. Thailand has it all and it’s all very affordable even to fighters too. All of it makes Tiger Muay Thai a special place, because everything here is simple, kind and effective.”
Rafael Fiziev vs. Renato Moicano, UFC 256
The fight with Moicano was originally slated for last weekend’s card in November but was canceled due to Moicano failing a COVID test. While the rescheduling of the fight wasn’t ideal for Rafael Fiziev, he intends to look on the positive side and get the good out of the situation.
“I already finished my camp and all the hard work was done, so I had to adjust my weight and training again. An extra two week of training wasn’t easy, I was ready to fight. But on a positive side, it gave me more time to get my US visa and now I can travel to the states earlier to adjust to new climate and time zone.”
As I wrote earlier, the fight with Renato Moicano at UFC 256 is the toughest and biggest opportunity in Fiziev’s career to date. But, “Ataman” thrives on that pressure coming from such a big fight. Rafael Fiziev says that the weight on his shoulders is a motivator and has made him a better fighter.
“Moicano is the toughest opponent to date in my career and the pressure I have now only gives me extra energy. It motivates me to evolve and get better with every training session. I have an extra desire to fight him, I want to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I’m ready to fight and to beat opponents of this level.”
A lot of people in the UFC chase the belt. While that’s obviously a goal for Fiziev as well, he sees fighting as a symbiotic relationship with glory and fighting. Fiziev says chasing money alone is no way to fight and the same in a reverse situation as well. With all the recent attention from fans in the west, Fiziev sees it as a part of his goal to be recognized for his work.
“To be honest [recognition] is my ultimate goal in professional sports. I’m doing it for glory, to be recognized and for money. Only money won’t bring happiness, only glory without money is also not enough. But to have glory and money is what I want to get, that’s what motivates me to work hard.”
But, Rafael Fiziev is out there to snag the bonus money available and set himself up for that future of blacksmithing. He says he will hunt the belt, but up to this point, he’s out to put on a show for fans, especially in the Moicano fight.
“My goal in UFC is to get as many bonuses as possible. I want to have a record of Performance and Fight of the Night bonuses in this organization. Maybe after I beat Moicano or get in the top 15, my goal will be the belt, but at the moment I’m focused on bringing exciting performances to the fans and winning bonuses. Ultimately it will lead me to the title anyway.”