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Exclusive: Youssef Zalal on changing Morocco’s MMA scene and backing Khabib Nurmagomedov to beat Justin Gaethje

Youssef Zalal is a rising star in the MMA world
(R-L) Youssef Zalal of Morocco punches Peter Barrett in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 08, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Youssef Zalal also made predictions for Paulo Costa vs Israel Adesanya and Colby Covington vs Tyron Woodley

Youssef Zalal made another appearance on the Blood, Sweat and Tears podcast and had a ton of predictions to make.

The Moroccan is 3-0 in the UFC and is on a four-fight win streak. The 23-year-old is 10-2 in his MMA career and faces Seung Woo Choi on October 10.

While the Moroccan Devil might be the next big thing in the UFC, he knew his rival was a “tough dude” and spoke about his kickboxing background too.

Youssef Zalal is on a four-fight win streak
(L-R) Peter Barrett kicks Youssef Zalal of Morocco in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 08, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Youssef Zalal is on a four-fight win streak
(L-R) Peter Barrett kicks Youssef Zalal of Morocco in their featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 08, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Zalal also spoke about how he got into MMA, and that was down to his mother:

“My mom put me in kickboxing. I was 10 years old back in Morocco. I did it for a year, I had like two fights, I was like 12.

“Lost the first one, won the second one and then didn’t train until like 14-15 and then I started doing MMA.

“I couldn’t do MMA till age 18, the rest is history.”

However, while he is doing a great job out of Morocco, the youngster wanted MMA to grow in the African country.

Morocco is known for other sport but Zalal wanted MMA to be the next big thing too:

“Want to change MMA community in Morocco. We have kickboxing, soccer and stuff like that, I want to change that for the whole country.”

He also named Badr Hari, a kickboxing legend, as the one fighter he grew up watching. Hari is still active and is set to fight later in the year too.

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Round 2 with @themoroccandevil! We check in with his training and camp as it is his 3rd fight in just over 2 months. He is 3-0 this year. We talk about how he got into kickboxing, his favourite fighter @badrhariofficial, giving back to his home country Morocco and starting a MMA community there, what it means to be a UFC fighter, what it’s like working with @coachmarcmontoya and everyone at @factoryxmuaythaimma, mental side of the sport and how important it is, teammate @broyval and watching his growth as we both predict he will be future champ one day, some fight predictions and much more! @iridiumsportsagency @jasonkhouse .. .. .. #ufc #mma #ufcfightnight #fightisland #ufcfighter #mmafighter #bjj #muaythai #kickboxing #boxing #wrestling #oss #fights #fight #training #fighter #fighters #jiujitsu #mmatraining #mmapodcast #podcast #mixedmartialarts #moroccan #marrakech #fitness #morocco #fightisland #ufcnews #instagood #bjjlifestyle

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Big predictions from Zalal

The UFC has some big fights coming up with Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya meeting. Adesanya is the current Middleweight champion and both him and Costa are undefeated in their MMA careers.

Zalal was asked to share his prediction for this and backed the champion to keep the gold:

“I gotta go with Adesanya on this. I just think Adesanya’s striking and movement and stuff like that will break down Paulo Costa.”

He also backed Colby Covington to get the better of Tyron Woodley, and then shared his prediction for Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Justin Gaethje Khabib Nurmagomedov

Nurmagomedov is undefeated in his MMA career too and defends his title against Gaethje soon:

“Cannot wait for that fight. Gotta go with Khabib for sure. I mean Gaethje has the weapons to be the world champion, he might shock the world, to be honest.”

However, he also joked how difficult it was to get a bonus when Gaethje was fighting:

“If you fight on the same card, good luck in getting a bonus.”

It will be interesting to see how the fights go, especially with a couple of titles on the line. Khabib and Adesanya face tough opponents and have to be at their best if they want to keep the gold.

This was an exclusive interview from Blood, Sweat and Tears. For more exclusive interviews and content please follow the link

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Written by Saiyed Adeem Karim

Ditching a corporate job to follow a dream isn't easy, but when football comes calling, who can say no? Been following the beautiful game since 1998. Liverpool addict, F1 fanatic!

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