Rafael Fiziev over ‘sad’ loss to Justin Gaethje ahead of UFC Fight Night 228 headliner

LAS VEGAS – Rafael Fiziev thinks he’s grown stronger from his loss to Justin Gaethje ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 228 main event.

After putting together a six-fight winning streak in the lightweight division, Fiziev (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) ran into a difficult hurdle in “BMF” champ Gaethje at UFC 286 in March. He started strong, but then was bloodied and outworked down the stretch in a unanimous decision defeat.

Six months later, Fiziev is back and set to take on Mateusz Gamrot (22-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a key 155-pound headliner at the UFC Apex, which streams on ESPN+. He’s come to terms with his performance with Gaethje, shored up the holes he identified in his strategy and execution, and is prepared to get back on track.

“Loss is last time – I’m sad for last time,” Fiziev told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 228 media day. “Everybody don’t like loss. I want to come back to good win. I want to make a show again, and I want to get my hand (raised).”

After going toe-to-toe with Gaethje for three rounds in London, Fiziev gets almost the opposite type of matchup. Gamrot has made it clear he will attempt to drown Fiziev with his grappling game, but Fiziev is confident he can keep the fight in his realm.

“We are totally different styles and that’s why it’s very interesting for me also,” Fiziev said. “All my life I learn how to stop wrestlers, how to defend takedowns and continue in the standup.”

Fiziev, 30, also learned with the loss to Gaethje that he can’t get ahead of himself. He knows the challenge at hand, and knows he can’t afford back-to-back losses.

“I can’t say I’m humble – I’m always humble,” Fiziev said. “I don’t have names. Everybody too much thinking about rankings, about numbers. That’s why this division is staying (still). I just want to fight.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 228.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie