Rafael Fiziev set to become first fighter to represent Azerbaijan in the UFC

Rafale Fiziev (via @rafael_ataman_fiziev on Instagram)
Rafale Fiziev (via @rafael_ataman_fiziev on Instagram)

Rafael Fiziev will be representing the country of Azerbaijan when he enters the octagon against Rafael dos Anjos in tonight's main event. 'Ataman' will also become the first fighter to represent the country in the world's largest MMA promotion.

A mainstay at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, Fiziev has now reportedly worked things out with the Azerbaijan Ministry of Sport to represent his heritage. Breaking the news, Brett Okamoto of ESPN MMA wrote on Instagram:

"In tonight’s UFC main event, Rafael Fiziev will become the first fighter to ever represent the country of Azerbaijan in the Octagon. His team worked with Azerbaijan Ministry of Sport to get that done this week to rep his heritage."

Check out the Instagram post below:

Fiziev is of Azerbaijani descent from his father's side and of russian lineage from his mother's. 'Ataman's ancestors settled in Kazakhstan during the Stalinist repression, where the fighter was born and raised before moving to Kyrgyzstan. The lightweight standout has actively supported Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War through his social networks.

Currently ranked number ten at 155 lbs, Fiziev is riding a five-fight win streak going into his main-event clash against Dos Anjos. Meanwhile, the Brazilian scored a dominant decision win over Renato Moicano, returning to the octagon in March after a hiatus of more than a year.

Rafael Fiziev names two contenders who deserve to fight Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title

Sportskeeda MMA's James Lynch recently caught up with Rafael Fiziev for an exclusive interview. 'Ataman' was asked to imagine himself in the shoes of UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby and decide the most appropriate lightweight title bout.

Fiziev, like many others, regards Charles Oliveira as the uncrowned king at 155 lbs. The Ajerbaijani also believes that 'do Bronx' did not miss weight at the controversial UFC 274 weigh-ins.

According to 'Ataman', Islam Makhachev or Beneil Dariush are the most deserving candidates to make a bid for the vacant title against Oliveira. The 29-year-old recently told James Lynch:

"I don’t know if I’m sure, this is not easy, because for me everyone knows Oliveira, he [is] the champion ... And two people deserve this title fight for sure, [Beneil] Dariush and Islam Makhachev, they together deserve it 100% for me. That’s why if Dariush fights Oliveira [or if] Makhachev fights Oliveira, that’s the same thing. Or, more than horrible [worst case] if Dariush and Makhachev fight [while] Oliveira waits, and afterwards Oliveira fights with somebody."

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Edited by David Andrew
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