The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will finally come back to the United Kingdom this weekend. After two successful cards in 2022, UFC is set to hold a major PPV in London after a long time. UFC 286 will see UK’s own, Leon Edwards, defending his belt for the first time against Kamaru Usman whom he beat to win the title. But aside from that, the fight that fans are looking forward to the most, is between Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev.
The bout will perhaps determine the next title challenger for Islam Makhachev. Following his first title defense against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284, Makhachev needs new challengers in the lightweight division. While fighters like Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira are there, the winner of this fight will definitely have a stake in the conversation as well. While Gaethje is the former interim lightweight champ, Fiziev is a rising contender in the division.
GAETHJE vs FIZIEV! #UFC286 is LIVE SATURDAY on @ESPNPlus PPV! pic.twitter.com/0zIclr68H7
— danawhite (@danawhite) March 16, 2023
On top of that, Justin Gaethje is perhaps the most entertaining fighter to watch inside the Octagon. Every time Justin fights, it is almost a guarantee that the contest will deliver a potential “Fight of the Year” contender. Rafael Fiziev is no slouch in terms of delivering spectacular bouts either. His bouts against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Brad Riddell were fireworks as well. So who wins in a bout between two elite strikers like Gaethje and Fiziev? Let’s find out.
UFC 286: Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev, Stats
|Stats||Justin Gaethje||Rafael Fiziev|
|Height||1.8 m||1.73 m|
|Reach||177.8 cm||181.6 cm|
Gaethje vs Fiziev: Fight Breakdown
Following his stint in the World Series of Fighting (currently known as PFL), Justin Gaethje came into the UFC with a massive reputation. He was the lightweight champ of the promotion before entering the UFC. Due to his extremely violent style of fighting, fans endeared themselves to Justin and the expectations were extremely high. He lived up to it on his debut in 2017 against Michael Johnson.
Since then, Justin has had a UFC record of 6 wins and 4 losses. The 34-year-old has 23 wins and 4 losses in total in his career. His losses came only against the best of the best like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Eddie Alvarez, Dustin Poirier, and Charles Oliveira. The Highlight has also beaten fighters like Edson Barboza, Tony Ferguson, Donald Cerrone, and Michael Chandler. He won the interim belt against Ferguson at UFC 249.
Rafael Fiziev, on the other hand, has a record of 12-1. His only loss was against Magomed Mustafaev, which was his UFC debut. He currently holds 5 UFC wins since then and has beaten fighters such as Bobby Green, Brad Riddell, and Rafael dos Anjos. As per UFC stats, he lands 4.81 strikes per minute while absorbing 4.86 strikes as well. So it does give Gaethje an advantage on the feet.
Although Gaethje lands 7.46 strikes per minute, Justin also absorbs 7.85 strikes as well. So both fighters are prone to getting into firefights. In grappling, Justin is yet to get a single takedown in his 10-fight UFC career so far. Fiziev, on the other hand, has 0.36 takedowns per fight. Nicknamed “Ataman,” Rafael has 8 KOs and 1 submission, while Gaethje has 19 KOs and 1 submission. So it just shows what kind of fireworks the fans can expect this Saturday.
But, Fiziev only has 1 KO loss in his career, while Gaethje has been KO’ed and submitted twice each. So it makes for a great contest. Justin has been inconsistent in his UFC run lately and it may provide Rafael Fiziev the chance to trump the Arizona native. Gaethje is still in the Top 5, while Fiziev is just outside at the 6th rank. So with a win here, Fiziev can finally make his entry into the elite group of the division.
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