Youssef Zalal: The Morrocan Cowboy

Youssef Zalal

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Donald Cerrone is someone of a folk hero with MMA fans. In his first year with the UFC, Cerrone stepped into the octagon an astounding five times, picking up four performance bonuses along the way. While he’s begun to slow down just a bit in his advanced age, there isn’t a lack of people who have adopted that same mentality. 

Just 14-years old when Donald Cerrone made that first UFC run, Morrocan-born Youssef Zalal takes that same mentality into the fight game. Despite being signed by the UFC just six months ago, he will make his third appearance when he steps into the octagon this weekend. 

“Hey man, I’m crazy,” Zalal said of his willingness to jump back in there. “I’ll fight six times a year, seven times a year. I don’t care.”

Some of that mentality comes from the fact that he just loves to throw down. However, a much larger part of it comes from how successful he’s been in the UFC so far. 

“I’m very hard to hit. I barely get touched,” he said of his first two bouts. “I go in there and come out healthy and I’m ready to go for the second fight, the third fight. For me, I’m just ready, man, so I don’t care.”

It’s worth noting that even though Zala finds himself searching for his third win in as many contests, this weekend’s bout will be against a UFC newcomer. Having been signed on the Contender Series back in August of 2019, Peter Barrett has been eagerly awaiting the call with no such luck. Despite his run of success, Zalal doesn’t take offense that he’s getting the newbie. 

“It doesn’t matter. I know the UFC will give us tough competition. Peter Barrett is still tough, he’s no joke competition. So for me, it was just taking the fight as they offer it,” Zalal said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s his debut, for me it’s a fight. I’m ready to have fun and we’ll go from there.”

Of course if the UFC does come to him with a fighter with a number next to their name, Zalal will be ready - that is as long as it’s coming up soon. 

“If they give me number 15, I’ll take number 15. If they give me number 10, I’ll take number 10. It’s just a fight for me,” he said. 

You can catch Zalal’s bout with Peter Barrett on the ESPN+ prelims of UFC Vegas 6: Lewis vs Oleinik this Saturday.

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