Looking back on his unanimous decision victory over Peter Barrett at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Oleinik, featherweight Youssef Zalal had an admittedly more difficult time than he anticipated, but is nonetheless pleased with picking up the win.
While Zalal didn’t take his opponent lightly heading into their bout, Barrett was definitely a tougher nut to crack than was anticipated.
“That was a cool fight,” Zalal told MMAWeekly.com. “I had a great experience in that fight. Peter, it was surprising how tough he was. He could take all the shots and stuff like that no problem.
“That was pretty interesting and something I haven’t dealt with that much. I’ve known guys who can take some shots, but in the second or third round it slows them down, but he kept coming, so that was pretty interesting.”
Having come off a win over Jordan Griffin a few weeks prior to his fight with Barrett, Zalal feels he was more prepared to handle the atmosphere of fighting during the coronavirus pandemic than others might be.
“It’s normal for me (to have a quick turnaround,) said Zalal. “I’ve been taking short-notices for the longest time. So for me it’s just another fight. You’ve got to go out there and fight.
“I think I’ll have an advantage because when I fought Jordan Griffin and I walked out it was a completely different environment. It was very different. As soon as I saw that an experienced that, I thought Peter Barrett, his debut, he’s going to have a hard time going through that.”
The victory over Barrett was Zalal’s fourth win in a row. While he’s been delivering solid performances during his streak, Zalal is quick to credit those around him with helping things coalesce at the right time.
“Just the team, my whole team, my teammates, we figured it out,” Zalal said. “Things are clicking. We train with the best training partners. We train at the best gym. We train with the best strength and conditioning gym. Everything’s just coming up together.”
With three wins already in 2020, it would be understandable if Zalal wanted some time off, but in actuality he wants to keep his momentum going and close out the year as actively as possible.
“My manager said to go train, see how I feel, and then give him call,” said Zalal. “You have an opportunity, especially during this time, to go out and fight and get some cage time at a really high level and get better, I’m not going to say no to that.”