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MONTREAL — Aiemann Zahabi has faced some hurdles early in his UFC career.
After a successful UFC debut against Reginaldo Vieira in February 2017, he has dropped his last two in a row. He saw his undefeated win streak come to a halt in brutal fashion, via a spinning back elbow thrown by Ricardo Ramos that caught him out of nowhere at UFC 217. Then Zahabi dropped the next one, a decision to Vince Morales, in what he believed was a lackluster performance.
All of a sudden, Zahabi finds himself with his back against the wall.
“Losing is nothing like winning, obviously the opposite but I do kind of take the two losses mostly as my fault,” Zahabi told MMA Junkie. “Not to say that my opponents didn’t do anything, obviously they did what they had to do, but I think it’s a 50/50 split.”
He came out aggressively in his knockout loss to Ramos, a fight that he felt like he was controlling, right up to the sudden finish. That forced him to take a much more cautious approach in his next fight, which resulted in a unanimous decision loss to Morales at UFC on ESPN+ 9.
The back-to-back setbacks left Zahabi (7-2 MMA, 1-3 UFC) a little frustrated in regards to which approach he should take in a fight, as he attributes the losses to mental lapses.
“It’s more mental than it is about skillset because I’ve been training my whole life,” Zahabi said. “I don’t feel like it’s a lot of deficiency in skill, I think it’s a little bit of ring time, being in a war, coming out of it. Gaging when I should pick up the tempo and when I should be patient.”
“The fight after (Morales), I went completely the opposite with it,” Zahabi added. “I was like you know what, be a little more cautious, don’t get caught with anything stupid, don’t get caught win anything and then I like never got going so fight’s over.”
And he hopes to achieve the perfect balance in his next outing, as he’s eager to get back in there, and turn things around.
“I really feel like because now that I’ve swung far to try to kill someone and too hard on being passive, like hopefully the next one will be the perfect combination, and I’ll get that finish that I’ve been looking for.”
With one fight left on his UFC contract, Zahabi knows he’s in a tough spot, but instead of focusing on the outcome, he wants to make sure to put on a show.
Win or lose, Zahabi, who finished his first six MMA fights, wants to be exciting enough for the UFC to want him on their roster regardless.
“I would love to put on such a performance,” Zahabi said. “That’s my goal, to put on such a performance, no matter what happens, the UFC wants me in the company. That’s the dream. Fighting for the UFC, it’s the number one brand so I’m looking to put a performance and that’s what we’ve really been working on.”
For more from Zahabi, click on the video linked above.
News | MMA Junkie