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Elizeu Zaleski wonders if ranked UFC welterweights are scared of him

CM System welterweight Elizeu Zaleski won seven straight since losing a decision in his UFC debut.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Elizeu Zaleski is riding a seven-fight winning streak that was capped off by a quick stoppage over Curtis Millender, but wonders why he’s not booked against someone ranked in the top 15.

Victorious in all but one of his appearances inside the Octagon with three post-fight bonuses, “Capoeira” was recently asked whether or not the UFC sees him as a potential star in the division.

“I honestly can’t say,” Zaleski told reporters during Saturday night’s UFC 237. “I’m doing my part, which is getting ready and putting on a good streak in the promotion. I hope I’m always doing my best. It’s on the company now to book those fights. I’m ready, and I want to fight someone ranked, for sure. I hope (to fight) someone closer to the top 5.”

When the Octagon door closes, Zaleski is one of the most exciting fighters in the 170-pound weight class today. Aside from his three “Fight of the Night” wins over Omari Akhmedov, Lyman Good and Max Griffin, the Brazilian also scored highlight-reel finishes over Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini that did not earn him bonuses in 2018.

Outside the cage, “Capoeira” is not an outspoken athlete that will grab the mic and win the attention of the entire MMA world — and he has no intention to change his style to become that type of fighter. Yet, he hopes that his in-cage performances are enough to convince the UFC to book him against elite competition.

Targeting a return around July or August, which could give him enough time to be part of the upcoming UFC Sao Paulo event on Nov. 16, Zaleski has two ideal opponents in mind for his next bout.

“I think an interesting fight would be against Leon Edwards, who’s also coming off seven straight wins and is anxious to fight,” Zaleski said. “Why don’t we meet there to see who gets the eighth straight victory?”

“There’s also Colby (Covington), who only talks, talks and talks, but never fights,” he continued. “I think that’s also an interesting fight. I’d go out there to fight him, since he’s scared to come fight in Brazil. He says a bunch of stuff and now is scared to come fight here. We can make that fight. That’s also an interesting one.”

Edwards, whose winning streak includes names likes of Donald Cerrone, Bryan Barberena, Vicente Luque and most-recently Gunnar Nelson, currently has no fight booked. Covington, on the other hand, is hoping to be the next in line for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

On Friday, he went on Twitter to volunteer to replace injured Tyron Woodley against Robbie Lawler in the main event of UFC Minneapolis on June 29, before the UFC announced Francis Ngannou vs. Junior dos Santos as the new main event.

Zaleski has no idea who will be in the cage with him next, and believes that fellow ranked welterweights could be scared to face him.

“That might be happening, yes,” Zaleski said. “They get to a point that they get comfortable, when they are in the ranking, and they don’t want to fight, they just want to guarantee (their spots). We have to fight, things have to move in this division, which is a stacked division.

”If you’re not going to fight, get out. Go do something else, I don’t know. A fighter has to fight.”

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