Friday, December 21st, Kyrgyz lightweight prospect Rafael Fizaev will be in action in Kazakhstan, supporting tIn he Titan FC 51 card. He will be competing against Nurzhan Tutkaev, as Fizaev looks to score another look from the UFC (was linked to Contenders Series, dropped out). Fizaev represents the respected Tiger Muay Thai team, a camp that is generally recognized as one of the best in the business. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Muay Thai: It’s easy to tell that Fizaev has a muay Thai background in all of his fights. The guy is an absolute beast on the feet. He is very technical and precise on the feet, which makes his strikes more devastating. He has good movement on the feet and throws with accuracy. He also uses the classic “8 points of muay Thai” with great results, achieving finishes in his career with kicks, punches, elbows and knees. Overall, he’s a tough guy to stand toe-to-toe with.
Power: In addition to his muay Thai technical prowess, he’s also very strong and powerful. All of his pro wins in MMA have come via finish (4 KO, 1 SUB). That power, in unison with above average athleticism, mixes nicely with his technical prowess and mobility. He has one-shot power on the feet which means he can end things in the blink of an eye. He’s definitely a striker you need to get off his feet.
Competition Level: One knock on Fizaev thus far is he hasn’t fought anybody of note. His opponent’s records combined to be 17-15, hardly what one would consider strong competition. That said, his opponent for this upcoming bout is hardly a world beater himself, so Fizaev will not be reversing course in the upcoming future. He needs to step up in competition going forward so we can gauge his MMA talent more accurately and better.
Question Marks: We also have a lot of blanks that need to be filled in with Fizaev. How is his ground game? Is his takedown defense solid? How is he off his back if he does get taken down? Perhaps he’s a good grappler and we just haven’t seen it. He does have one submission win to his record. However, until we see more, the unknown makes him much harder to judge.
UFC Prelim Fighter: Fizaev definitely has talent and I think he can be a guy that eventually ends up on the UFC roster. That said, given what I know from what I have seen, he will likely peak as a UFC prelim fighter, or a curtain jerker, if you will. He certainly has an exciting style that the brass favors, but he has to prove he can beat UFC level talent. He was linked to the Dana White Contender Series last season, but dropped out of that bout with Joey Gomez. As always, I could be proven wrong, but that’s what it appears his course is for now.