Fares Ziam’s UFC tenure has been a little frustrating so far, but he hopes to turn that around.
The 24-year-old French fighter of Algerian descent has split his first two UFC appearances. He dropped a short-notice unanimous decision to Don Madge in his promotional debut, followed by a close decision win over Jamie Mullarkey this past October.
Ziam (11-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has had to do a lot of wrestling in his first two UFC fights, but the former K-1 champion expects his upcoming bout with Luigi Vendramini (9-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at UFC 263 to be his best showing yet.
“I think this fight with Luigi is good for me for the world to see my kickboxing, my striking, my takedown defense,” Ziam told MMA Junkie. “I think it’s a good fight. Jamie Mullarkey was a good opponent. My fight with him was very close. But now I’m ready. I have very nice wrestling defense, and I think for this fight, I’m very good.”
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Although Vendramini is coming off a first-round knockout win over Jessin Ayari, Ziam thinks he’ll eventually resort to the same game plan that his previous opponents have in which they’ve regularly shot for takedowns.
“I think he’ll try and wrestle with me, take me down,” Ziam said. “Luigi thinks he can submit me, but he can’t.
“I think he’s a grappler – a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He doesn’t have very good wrestling. His kickboxing is not good. But he trains in the U.S. with Alexander Hernandez. I think he’s progressed, but I’ll beat him on June 12.”
Ziam, who finished the majority of his fights before entering the UFC, was able to notch his first octagon win in a razor-thin decision against Mullarkey. He wasn’t able to show his full striking arsenal and is hoping to finally get a finish at UFC 263 in front of a sold-out crowd.
“I’m happy because my first fight (against Madge) wasn’t a very good fight because it was only wrestling,” Ziam said. “This (Mullarkey) fight was better, but I’m not really happy. I’m happy because it’s my first UFC victory – it’s a UFC win. I won the first round, he won the second, and I won the third, but it was a close fight. Me – I want to knock out some people.
“I’m happy it’s a big, big card with fans. This fight is a big opportunity for me, for the world to see my level. … Maybe (I’ll win by) knockout in the second round.”
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