It’s another fight and another short-notice call for Youssef Zalal.
Since joining the UFC roster in February, Zalal (9-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has yet to have a full training camp. For every one of his fights, he’s had little time to prepare, but Zalal is happy to continue gaining his experience in the octagon.
Once again, he got the call on short notice and with Steve Garcia forced out, Zalal stepped in on two weeks’ notice to face Peter Barrett at UFC on ESPN+ 32, which takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” Zalal told MMA Junkie. “You know what they say: The younger guys, you want to get in as much as possible. That’s how I feel. I’m so happy that I learned like 30 minutes of me actual fighting in the UFC cage, and that’s going to help me so much just in this fight and in my whole career, to be honest. So for me, I want to stay as active (as possible). I’m only 23 – I want to get as much better as possible.”
Zalal contemplated a move down to bantamweight, but after a couple of tests at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, he realized that it isn’t feasible, and that the massive cut down would also prevent him from making quick turnarounds.
“I went to the P.I. to do a couple of tests, and then they were like, ‘OK, your body with no fat in it is 134 pounds,’” Zalal said. “So I was like, damn – I have to be 0 percent body fat to make ’35. It makes no sense for me to suffer throughout the camp, and I really don’t want to fight twice a year. I want to fight more than just twice a year.”
He takes on the all-action Barrett, whom Zalal sees as a perfect stylistic matchup for him to shine.
“He’s like a brawler – he wants to bring the fight to you and it makes it exciting,” Zalal said. “That’s why he’s one of the exciting fighters. Even in (Dana White’s) Contender Series, he fought a weight class higher and he just goes out there. He doesn’t care. He’s just: Bomb, bomb, just slugging stuff around. So I feel like he’s going to be the same guy. He’s coming in and trying to brawl with me, this and that. But that’s when I shine with those guys. I do a lot better against those guys than guys who are really just technical and stuff like that.”