Though featherweight Youssef Zalal was able to replicate the success he had in 2017 with three finishes in his three bouts in 2018, winning and finishing aren’t enough.
When it comes to his performances, Zalal is always his harshest critic, and feels like there was more he could have done in his victories.
“The year went great for me,” Zalal told MMAWeekly.com. “I was pretty active for the whole of 2018. I cornered my teammates a lot and that was a great experience. It was an amazing year, but it’s not there yet, it’s just getting started. That’s nothing compared to what’s coming in 2019.
“I’m happy with the wins but I’m satisfied because I always want to do better in every single fight. It challenges me in every fight to do something more, do better stuff, do more exciting, interesting, stuff in fights.”
With his second straight year of three finishes, Zalal has begun to gain some attention, but for him it’s not anything that he didn’t anticipate, and thus doesn’t feel overwhelmed by.
“I planned all of this,” said Zalal. “I knew with winning all this stuff would come; more attention and this and that. It’s nothing new to me.
“I shine under the cameras. That’s where I belong. That’s where I train to be at. For me it’s just another day. It’s all business. It’s not about the cameras, it’s not about the attention, it’s all about the fight.”
On Friday in Broomfield, Colo., Zalal (6-0) will look to repeat the success he’s had to start off his career when he faces Jose Mariscal (8-3) in the 145-pound main event of LFA 57.
“Everybody talking about this guy how (Mariscal) was a gold medalist in Judo and is a scrappy little Mexican guy, but at the day, they know exactly who is coming for the belt and all these guys,” Zalal said. “But the last time I fought a scrapper like him, he got submitted, so we’ll see.
“To me it’s all about the complete game. For me to win this fight I have to do complete MMA, and guaranteed I’ll win the fight.”
Should Zalal pick up another finish victory in his first televised main event, it could be the thing that helps him make the move to the next level. If not after his bout with Mariscal, then Zalal hopes by year’s end.
“I would hope (this is the fight that gets me to the next level),” said Zalal. “This is my plan. I know in 2019 I will be in the UFC. I’ve said it in plenty of interviews. I’m hoping after this fight – especially after the performance I put on January 18 – it should get me there.”