Rafael Fiziev is in the business of collecting bonus checks and so far business has been good.
In 2020, Fiziev fought twice and on both occasions he walked out with an extra $50,000 in his bank account. His win over Marc Diakiese in July netted both men a Fight of the Night award, while Fiziev’s most recent outing saw him score a first-round TKO of Renato Moicano at UFC 256. The Moicano finish netted Fiziev a Performance of the Night bonus on a card that included some stiff competition for post-fight awards, including Charles Oliveira, Tony Ferguson, Cub Swanson, Mackenzie Dern, Ciryl Gane, and Chase Hooper.
Fiziev’s successful 2020 campaign also saw him improve his UFC record to 3-1 and he’s become one to watch in the always competitive lightweight division. During a recent appearance on What the Heck, Fiziev explained that right now he’s less worried about moving up the rankings than he is putting on crowd-pleasing performances.
“My focus in UFC is to take bonuses, hunt for bonuses,” Fiziev said with assistance from a translator. “This, for me, is what I want in the UFC. I don’t think about belt, I don’t think about talk, I think just about bonuses when I fight. I find bonuses. If I fight, I find bonuses for sure.
“When I see this card had big legends on the card and strong guys like Ferguson, like Oliveira, I think this is not easy to take a bonus on this card because there’s so many strong guys, so many people who like bonuses. But I find it and when I do this knockout and finish, I think 100 percent I take bonus because this is a good combo and this is like a real knockout to beat this guy.”
One factor that has diminished Fiziev’s enjoyment of his 2020 outings? The lack of crowds due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions. Fiziev, who fights out of Kyrgyzstan, had the opportunity to compete in Abu Dhabi and Las Vegas for the first time in his career this year, but did so at venues without fans.
Fiziev was frank when asked about the bittersweet experience of making his Las Vegas debut under less than ideal circumstances.
“When no have fans in fight, this is really dogsh*t,” Fiziev said. “Because when I walk to cage, when I see fans, when I see people happy, people wanting blood, this gives me more energy. Like, ‘Wow, this is what I want.’ But without fans, you go to fight and you not hear anything, you just hear hear your music. This [doesn’t feel the same as before], but this is what it is.”
On the plus side, Fiziev has noticed a definite uptick in popularity when it comes to English speaking fans, both in the United States and Europe. He’s aiming to return in March or April of next year to capitalize on his recent victories.
As for who he wants to fight, Fiziev wants to earn a spot in the UFC rankings before naming names, but he’s hoping that his exciting striking style doesn’t scare off any potential opponents.
“Don’t worry guys, I’m a good man,” Fiziev said. “I just like to punch face. It’s okay.”
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