Once Rafael Fiziev went from the idea of fighting his friend and former training partner Brad Riddell to the reality of it, he didn’t quite like the feeling it gave him at UFC Vegas 44.
“I feel uncomfortable when I started,” Fiziev told reporters after Saturday’s event. “Not too much. I understand this is a real fight. Maybe he would knock me out, but it’s still a little bit uncomfortable.”
As it turned out, Fiziev was the one who wound up getting the knockout first. It took nearly all of the fight before his reads on Riddell paid off with a perfectly placed wheel kick. Riddell froze in place before hitting the deck with a few follow-up shots, and referee Herb Dean stepped in to halt any further punishment.
“I wait for this third round,” Fiziev said. “When I started to put him to the cage, I see when he goes right, he every time drops his hands, and I’m just thinking I need to do a spinning backfist or a spinning back-kick. I make spinning back-kick.”
For Fiziev, the feeling of knocking out a friend wasn’t much more comfortable. He and Riddell had been friends in Thailand and even held the same coaching job at the Tiger muay Thai gym. Riddell called Fiziev when the UFC proposed a fight between them, and the two agreed to get it over with so they could both stay active.
Fiziev shared a few words with Riddell after the fight, but he didn’t share them in public.
“I don’t know if I’m sad or I’m happy, because it’s not so good when your friend’s like that,” he said. “Of course, I’m happy, and sad, and happy. I don’t know.”
It was Fiziev’s seventh win by knockout in his MMA career and his second in the octagon. As a kickboxer, he knocked out 29 people. And yet, this one was a surprise just like any other.
“I never find knockouts in my fights, and I never try to make a knockout, and I never believe this before a fight,” he said. “I wanted from him damage, and I took it. I go to my kitchen today, and I try to cook something.”
With five straight wins, Fiziev, the No. 13 fighter in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, is likely to take another step up on the UFC lightweight ladder. But he’s concerned with more immediate things in his future.
“The next plan is a 17.5 hour flight to Singapore, and after to Singapore, then to Thailand,” he said.
Check out Fiziev’s full interview below, courtesy of MMA Weekly.