Rabat – Moroccan UFC fighter Youssef Zalal has strong aspirations to boost his Martial Mixed Arts (MMA) performance in the UFC.
In a new interview with Morocco World News, the UFC fighter shared developments on his career in the MMA world, calling on other competitors to stay alert as he is strengthening his A game.
“I’m still young so they better watch out, I’m coming in with some great skills and great knowledge of the game,” the Moroccan athlete said.
Determined to develop his skills and knowledge, the fighter said he is becoming a “better man everyday,” with full confidence that fans can expect even stronger performances.
Youssef Zalal does not stay idle in his “free time.” The athlete told MWN that he is a full-time fighter, emphasizing that he works out twice everyday, except Saturday and Sunday.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, his routine changed somewhat. He and his coaches and team started working in small groups.
With the world beginning to adapt to the pandemic, however, the training regimen is largely returning to normal, he added.
Youssef Zalal does not seem stressed about the opponents he might face during upcoming matches. One match is really enough to learn the tactics of his rival, he feels, so he doesn’t invest too much time researching their style.
“I usually watch one fight of my opponent, whatever the match is. I usually watch the last match and I leave the rest to my coaches,” he said.
The Moroccan UFC fighter spends most of his time training while his team deals with the rest.
- Youssef Zalal. Photo Credit: @themoroccandevil Instagram
MMA is not just a sport for Youssef Zalal. While he also prioritizes spending time with his family, MMA is a central element of his life and identity.
Youssef Zalal’s in-the-moment passion
While some consider getting into such a sport just for fans and for the joy of the moment, “for me it is a passion and a hobby that I really love to do.”
“It changed my life,” he added.
The athlete told people who believe MMA is just a means to make fighting legal “good luck” with that idea.
“It is not an easy sport, and it is not only that.” Professional fighting has its “desk job” aspects, too—it’s not just about throwing punches. It also requires serious, sustained commitment.
The athlete also doesn’t believe in luck, but rather hard work and determination to find success.
“Nothing comes to you, that is the big thing I learned. You need to sacrifice a lot of things. Do something you really love and really enjoy. And have fun when doing it and the rest will be just history.”
The 24-year-old Moroccan expressed his satisfaction with being a part of the UFC, the biggest MMA institution in the world.
When asked about his lifetime goal, however, Youssef Zalal said that for now, particularly given the pandemic circumstances, he is just going with the flow.
“If a fight is coming to me I will take it and I will take it from there. I don’t care what it gives me next and I don’t have any idea what my goal would be this year.”
Without setting a specific goal, Youssef Zalal considers combat with Brazil’s Jose Aldo would be a “dream fight.”
Youssef Zalal’s MMA journey
Known as the “Moroccan Devil” in the ring, the Casablanca native started training in MMA when he was just 16 after kickboxing since the age of 10.
He joined the UFC this year in February.
Being part of the UFC means “a lot” for Youssef Zalal, who said in a previous interview with MWN that the opportunity gives him a chance to show young athletes in Morocco that they can make it too if they put their minds to it
“This is possible and it is not just a dream,” he stressed.
Youssef Zalal vs Peter Barrett 1. Photo: UFC
The Moroccan fighter is now 3-0 with the UFC with unanimous decision wins in all three of his recent fights.
Youssef Zalal is set to face his next opponent, Germany’s Ilia Topuria, on October 10.
The fight will be his first since a combat with American Peter Barrett in August, when he overpowered his rival at UFC Vegas.
If he wins the next fight, the Moroccan UFC fighter will secure a 4-0 status.