The big UFC 286 tournament will occur on March 18 in London, England. In the co-main event, two bright punchers with different fighting styles – Rafael Fiziev and Justin Gagee – will share the octagon. The bout will take place in the lightweight division. Justin is number three in the official UFC rankings for this division, and Rafael is number six.
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Rafael comes from Thai boxing, where he has had countless exciting fights and won many tournaments, most of them in Thailand. He is noted for his excellent footwork and a vast arsenal of punches and defenses (his unique “matrix” alone is incredible). In his career, he suffered only one defeat: in his debut UFC fight. After that failure, Fiziev won six bouts in a row, three by knockout. Most experts see him as the favorite to face Gagee, as he is more versatile and physically prepared.
I have a great connection with Rafael, so I’m glad he’s going to match up with a top-five guy in the form of Gaethje. I think Rafael is a little better overall. Although it may be a biased opinion, because I trained with him. But I know that Gaethje is very clever.
Gaethje is a true elite of the lightweight division, and until recently, he was part of the “untouchables,” those guys who only fight each other and don’t accept challenges from fighters from the bottom of the top 15. That’s the reason why he’s been infrequently performing lately. After his no-deal loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, he’s only had two fights.
In 2021, he beat Michael Chandler on points in a crazy fight, and last year he was choked out by Charles Oliveira.
He’s known for his mighty hand punching and hefty low kicks. But his fighting style is monotonous. He likes provoking the opponents to open fights, where he usually breaks them down and knocks them out. But only if the opponent accepts the invitation and could be better at it.
Gaethje is very dangerous with his punches, he has very powerful, heavy, knockout punches. But I think Rafael will take this fight. I think he is a more active, flexible and versatile fighter. If Fiziev is always moving, Justin is more calm and mostly waiting, aiming his punches. With his impulsiveness Raphael will knock him down, tear him apart and take the fight to rounds, because Gaethje is hard to knock out. Also, you can fight him in parterre as well, it’s not Justin’s strongest side. Also, Gaethje won’t be superior to Fiziev in punching technique, I think they’re about the same level, but his heavy punches that can knock him out are very dangerous.
Irina “Russian Ronda” Alekseeva, the world sambo champion
Most of the fight will be in the standing. Gaethje will be aggressive in his style, attacking hard. Fiziev will try to shoot back and dodge his attacks with the help of movement to hit him back. The most dangerous for Rafael will be the first round, when Justin will bring all the power down on him and will not allow him even to lift his head. But if Fiziev survives the first round, he’ll have an easier time after that – a tired Gaethje isn’t as dangerous anymore.
That’s what’s going to happen. Moreover, in the second half, Fiziev can knock out his opponent, even if not by a direct punch, but he will make the referee stop the fight.
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