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Rafael Fiziev on UFC 286 loss to Justin Gaethje: ‘I made a lot of stupid decisions’

Rafael Fiziev on The MMA Hour

Rafael Fiziev is disappointed with himself after UFC 286.

This past Saturday, Fiziev faced Justin Gaethje in the co-main event of UFC 286, losing a hard-fought majority decision. The bout was widely lauded by the MMA community for the excitement it delivered and ended up earning Fight of the Night honors, but for Fiziev, it was a tough pill to swallow because he believes he didn’t perform well.

“I made bulls*** fight. I [could have] worked more,” Fiziev said this week on The MMA Hour. “I don’t like this fight. I made a lot of stupid decisions. A lot of stupid decisions. I played his game. I go in and fight, like just want to make everything crazy.

“Game plan was try to use I.Q., like how he did. He did it perfect. He just played. He just tried to play and I tried to fight crazy. ... Maybe I was excited in the moment, maybe I’m still young and stupid.”

The bout was a back-and-forth affair with Gaethje taking over late to earn the decision win. But as with many majority decisions, there was some controversy. Judges’ scorecards for the fight were all over the place, with no three judges agreeing on any one round, and judge Paul Sutherland even giving Gaethje a 10-8 round in the third. As a result, some have questioned the decision, but Fiziev is not one of them, even if he disagrees with Sutherland.

“A 10-8, I don’t know. A 10-8 is too much. I lost this fight, but not 10-8.”

But though he’s disappointed with his performance, it’s not all bad for “Ataman.”

Fiziev noted that he and Gaethje did still deliver the “fireworks” they had promised beforehand, and given the quality of the fight, he’s hopeful that his stock won’t take much of a hit, keeping him in the lightweight title conversation.

“I’m always [putting] too much pressure for myself when I lose,” Fiziev said. “If this loss doesn’t [drop me] down so much, and I’m still a few fights from the title, I’m happy for this. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’ll go back to the gym after a few weeks.”

As for a return, nothing is set in stone yet. Fiziev noted that he isn’t facing any serious injuries after the bout, so he’s targeting a late summer or early fall return to the cage.

“I think six months is good,” Fiziev said. “Five, six months is good. I still don’t know [who against]. I don’t think about it. I just came home, this is my second day, I’m still jet-lagged.”

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