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It’s no miracle. It’s what happens when talent meets hard work and opportunity, and after making it to 7-2 on the regional scene, Zalal got the call to the UFC and he’s kept answering, fighting four times in 2020, winning three of those bouts. And even after his October loss to late-notice replacement Ilia Topuria, he was ready to make the walk a fifth time before Montoya reined him in.

“After the last fight, I wanted to fight again before the end of the year, and he was like, ‘No, just take it easy. Just rest up.’ Man, I don’t want that. I want to go fight.”

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He got one, even if it’s not with a full training camp. Then again, Zalal likes it that way.

“A hundred percent,” the featherweight prospect laughs. “I told this to coach and my manager (Jason House). I do not like eight weeks. I really don’t. I’m like my worst enemy. It’s bad. I go in for a fight in eight weeks and one week I feel amazing, the next week I feel sad, the next I’m worried about getting hurt, the next, I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t have to cut that much weight, why am I not eating?’ And it’s just insane. It’s nerve-wracking for me. Give me three weeks and I’m a lot more comfortable to go fight than eight weeks.”


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