Rafael “Ataman” (which translates as ‘military chief’) Fiziev, who was born on March 5th, 1993, in Korday, Kazakhstan, is a surging prospect that’s currently ranked no.11 in UFC’s lightweight division.
The 28-year old who fights out of Tiger Muay Thai, (Thailand), just recently fought at UFC Vegas 44 (on Dec. 4th) to defeat another rising superstar, Brad Riddell, with a spinning wheel kick midst 3 hotly contested rounds.
He also has notable wins over Bobby “King” Green, Renato Moicano, Marc Diakiese (in a match where Fiziev pulled off a Matrix-like backward bend, dodging manoeuvre!), and Alex White.
Fiziev’s style is centred around his ferocious Muay Thai skills that he has honed over the years, competing within Muay Thai and smaller MMA promotions.
His style incorporates blistering punches allied with vicious kicks and forward-moving pressure that looks to overwhelm his opponent’s defences, combined with eye-watering speed. Interestingly enough, one of his hobbies outside of fighting is blacksmithing with an emphasis on cold steel arms…go figure!
When he was a child, Fiziev’s father bought him and his cousins a pair of boxing gloves and told them to go and spar. Having gotten beaten up by his cousins, Rafael decided he didn’t like fighting and gave it up.
It wasn’t until he was 11 years-old, when he was bullied at school, that he decided to start doing Muay Thai and soon found himself practicing other martial arts such as Sambo, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (he has a blue belt), and wrestling.
His professional Muay Thai record stands at 29 wins and 4 losses with knockouts ranging from flying knees to overhand rights, and spinning back kicks.
Rafael’s first MMA fight took place in Shenzhen, China, on July 18th, 2015, against Sam Bastin for W.I.N FC, with a stoppage coming by way of a flying knee. Following this victory and a run-in with other promotions such as Boroda FC, Primal FC and Titan FC, Fiziev would fight his way into a UFC contract in 2019.
Fiziev’s initial UFC run on April 20, 2019, would be met with stiff resistance in the form of Russian, Magomed Mustafaev, to whom he lost his only UFC fight – via TKO coming by way of a spinning back kick. Since that early loss, Fiziev hasn’t lost a fight and has quickly moved up the lightweight rankings by beating a series of top 15 opponents.
Even though his stint in the UFC has been relatively short, Rafael has picked up two Fight of the Night bonuses and two Performance of the Night bonuses. With his forward-pressure, aggressive style and willingness to engage in technical wars, the UFC matchmakers have a potential fan favourite on their hands as they seek to push him towards the division’s upper echelon of the lightweight elite.
Okay, so now that you’ve caught a glimpse of Ataman’s backstory, it’s time to move in on Rafael Fiziev’s Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
5. Vs. Sam Bastin – W.I.N FC (July 18, 2015)
(Sadly, we couldn’t find better quality footage for this entry, apologies!)
Rafael Fiziev’s pro debut sees him square off against Sam Bastin.
As the two fighters begin to circle one another in the cage, Fiziev blasts Sam with powerful kicks and punches that evoke a visible reaction from his opponent. Sam offers little offence as he struggles to get his own strikes firing.
Fiziev now dominates the centre of the cage and presses his opponent back until he is able to land a vicious jumping knee to Sam’s body which crumples him to the canvas, stopping the bout for a round 1 finish.
4. Vs. Nandin-Erdene – Road FC 45 (Dec. 23, 2017)
In round 1, Nandin-Erdene begins by establishing central octagon control. Fiziev begins to move around the cage using lateral footwork to stay clear of his opponent’s power hand.
Nandin attacks with a series of quick punches that Fiziev is able to evade effectively by using a tight guard and head movement.
Fiziev then disengages but is swiftly followed by Nandin, who unloads a barrage of punches. Fiziev fires back a combination that ends in a brilliant head kick which has Nandin stumbling around on his feet.
Fiziev then knocks him to the ground with a flurry of powerful punches that Nandin simply couldn’t recover from before the referee is forced to intervene and stop the fight at 0:58 of round 1.
3. Vs. Seung Yeon Kim – Road FC 39 (June 10, 2017)
Round 1 begins with both fighters meeting in the centre of the cage where they begin to battle.
Fiziev looks to land his signature kicks and delivers a powerful one to his opponent’s body. Rafael switches stances seamlessly and threatens attacks – both orthodox and southpaw.
Seung Yeon Kim is forced back against the fence, where he is pulled into Fiziev’s Thai clinch, where he battles for superior position before disengaging. Kim looks to remain elusive on the outside, using good footwork before attacking with counter punches. Here, the two fighters clash together and trade shots.
Fiziev begins to win the majority of the trades and begins to land 4-punch combinations that have Kim skirting along the outside of the cage.
Fiziev then cuts him off before landing a nasty hook to the liver, following up with a crisp, left hook straight to Kim’s jaw. This stumbles the Korean, whilst Fiziev swarms him to deliver punishing blows that sees Kim shelling up defensively.
Finally, Fiziev drops the Korean with a series of body shots that sees Kim crumble to the floor under the pressure to finish the fight at 4.23 of round 1.
2. Vs. Renato Moicano – UFC 256 (Dec. 12, 2020)
Round 1 begins with both fighters meeting in the centre of the cage to immediately start trading shots.
Fiziev utilizes lateral movement to stay off the centre line to fire off a series of powerful kicks to the body showing off his natural ability to perform such techniques from his years as a Nak Muay (Muay Thai practitioner).
Moicano attempts to establish octagon control by assuming forward pressure, but for every step forward, he’s met by a counter leg kick or a straight right cross that, on a few occasions, snaps Moicano’s head backwards.
Again, the fighters trade powerful shots in the centre, both moving forward and backward landing effective combinations whilst attempting to evade any counter punches.
Fiziev starts to steal the momentum, as at 4:01 he blitzes forward and hits Moicano with a left hook that causes him to crash to the canvas to ultimately bring about the fight stoppage at 4:05 of round 1.
1. Vs. Brad Riddell – UFC Vegas 44 (Dec. 4, 2021)
From the start, Fiziev assumed forward pressure and sought to get Brad Riddell against the fence. Both fighters exchange heavy punches, with Fiziev looking to land a left hook cross combination that is insanely fast. He also uses his trademark kicks to target Riddell’s body.
Riddel attempts to blitz Fiziev using a counter right hook, and overhand and tries to strike Fiziev as he exits the pocket.
By the start of round 2, the inherent hand speed advantage Fiziev has over Riddell becomes more apparent. Using lateral movement, Fiziev is able to shut Riddell down and engage and disengage effectively whilst protecting himself from the worst of Riddell’s dangerous, blitz-style of offence.
Riddell makes good use of an inside low kick to enter into the pocket to fire off a 3-piece combination, which, on occasion, has the audience as well as the commentators wincing with the ferocity of the punches.
By round 3, the fight scoring appears very close, with either round potentially having gone to either fighter, though both Riddell and Fiziev are keen to not leave it in the judges’ hands!
Both fighters begin to trade punches; however, Fiziev seems to be more relaxed, and fluid whereas Riddell seems more tense with his punches not landing as frequently as Fiziev’s.
Riddell attempts to change up the fight’s pace by shooting in for a takedown which Fiziev fights off and gets back to his feet.
Around halfway through the round, Fiziev backs Riddell up to the fence before throwing a spinning wheel kick that lands clean on Riddel’s chin, knocking him out. Referee, Herb Dean acts with expert timing, and calls the fight there and then – ending this exciting bout at 2:20 of round 3.