Looking back on his November first-round TKO victory over Jaime Hernandez at LFA 79, bantamweight Youssef Zalal is happy he got the win, but is always critical of his performance.
Though the fight only lasted 2:15, Zalal feels that he wasn’t able get the kind of cage time he was hoping to have at this stage of his career in the bout.
“It always needs a lot more work,” Zalal told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s getting experience now and getting ready for the big show.
“To be honest, for me it was all mental. We didn’t care about technique and this and that. I know I had that. I know I belong with the best in the world, so for me it was mainly myself that fight.”
Having been caught up in the LFA’s move from AXS TV to UFC Fight Pass, Zalal had to wait six months between bouts, but after some initial disappointment he chose to focus on the opportunity of another fight when it would come around.
“It sucked,” said Zalal. “I was getting ready for 12 weeks (to face Zac Riley in October). It was going to be my first fight at 135 pounds since I was an amateur. I planned it all good.
“Three days after the fight, I was going to leave for Morocco and all of that, so it kind of ruined me on that one. I was pissed, but I was excited to see what they were going to give me next.”
When it comes to 2020, Zalal will focus on moving to bantamweight fulltime, while his team lines up opportunities for his year.
“I would not say there would be differences in the way that I fight, but there will be advantages over a lot of 135ers with the reach and height and all of that,” Zalal said. “I feel like I stand out way more than the average 135er. When I fight at 135 pounds, it’s a whole different world for these guys.
“I have great management and team; I believe in them as much as they believe in me. They give me the phone call I’m ready. It doesn’t matter what day, what fight, I do not care.”