Former interim UFC lightweight champion Dustin Poirier sees big things in the future of one rising 155-pound contender.
When praising his divisional peers, you’d perhaps expect Poirier to make the most noise in regards to teammates like Mateusz Gamrot. While that is often the case, and “The Diamond” has always had great things to say about the rise of “Gamer,” the Pole isn’t the only surging name he has his eye on.
Like many following the UFC Vegas 58 main event, Poirier’s attention has been gained by Rafael Fiziev.
Earlier this month, Fiziev looked to continue his charge up the 155-pound ladder at the expense of former champion Rafael dos Anjos. Not only did he accomplish that goal, he did so by becoming the first man to finish “RDA” since Eddie Alvarez in 2016.
While recapping Fiziev’s performance during an appearance on ESPN MMA’s DC & RC show, Poirier revealed how high he is on the Azerbaijani, whose victory moved him to within five spots of the #2-ranked Louisianan.
“I’m gonna tell you how I really feel looking at it from a fan’s point of view. I think the sky is the limit for this guy,” Poirier said. “He beat a former world champion. He showed a great technique on the fence. He showed cardio. He showed power. He showed everything it takes to step up and be a contender. I’m excited to see what’s next for the guy.”
Poirier: Fiziev Passed The Test
Later in the conversation, host Daniel Cormier gave his take on Fiziev’s credentials. While he noted that up to this point, “Ataman” has impressed, “DC” suggested that he’s yet to be tested by an imposing grappler.
In response, Poirier suggested that Fiziev passed that exact test against dos Anjos on July 9.
“We have seen him in there with somebody’s who’s gonna try to hold him down. RDA was trying his best to nullify the movement, put him against the fence, get takedowns,” Poirier said. “Fiziev showed great takedown defense and made the guy fight in the middle of the Octagon. He passed that test…. did it with great composure, on a championship level.”
Of course, against the likes of Michael Chandler, Beneil Dariush, and Islam Makhachev, Fiziev’s ground game will be firmly tested. But for now, at least, it’s hard to pinpoint it as a weakness in the game of “Ataman,” who boasts a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and put his takedown defense on full display last time out.
Do you agree with Dustin Poirier? Is the sky the limit for Rafael Fiziev?