Youssef Zalal
The Moroccan Devil


Suffers first UFC defeat
October 10, 2020
Zalal lost to Ilia Topuria via unanimous decision (28-29, 28-29, 28-29) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
This wasn't as close as the scores would lead you to believe. In fact, it was difficult to find a round in that Zalal appeared to win. Hopelessly outmatched on the mat, Zalal spent the vast majority of the bout fighting off submission attempts from Topuria. He actually did exceedingly well in that regard, but playing all that defense limited Zalal's ability to generate any consistent offense of his own. This was Zalal's first UFC defeat after three straight victories to begin his time with the company. All four fights have seen the final bell. Zalal turned just 24 years of age this past September, and time is firmly on his side despite Saturday's setback.
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New opponent Oct. 10
October 3, 2020
Zalal will now take on the debuting Ilia Topuria in a featherweight matchup at the UFC event scheduled for Oct. 10 on Fight Island, Marcel Dorff of MMADNA reports.
Zalal was originally slated for a matchup against Seungwoo Choi, but Choi withdrew due to undisclosed reasons, giving Zalal just over a week to prepare for a matchup against an undefeated prospect. Look for Zalal to still enter as the favorite, as he's a perfect 3-0 against UFC competition and will hold a three-inch height advantage over Topuria. A 23-year-old prospect out of the country of Georgia, Topuria has finished all eight of his pro bouts, with seven wins coming via submission. Fortunately for Zalal, he's never been submitted in 12 total professional fights.
Slated for Oct. 10 bout
August 17, 2020
Zalal is being targeted for a featherweight matchup versus Seungwoo Choi for the UFC's Oct. 10 event, reports.
Zalal has gotten off to an impressive start in his UFC career, cruising to unanimous decision victories in each of his first three bouts. Next up on the docket is Choi, who got in the win column via unanimous decision over Suman Mokhatarian last time out after a rocky start with two losses to Movsar Evloev and Gavin Tucker. Zalal gives up two inches in both height and reach to Choi, so he may focus on takedowns as a key part of his attack. That's especially likely considering Zalal has averaged an even 3.00 takedown per 15 minutes of fight time, while Choi sports just a 66 percent takedown defense through his three appearances with the company.
Improves to 3-0 in UFC
August 9, 2020
Zalal defeated Peter Barrett via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27) at UFC on ESPN+ 32 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Zalal nearly had the first-round stoppage that those who rostered him in daily formats crave, as he landed a beautiful spinning back kick in the first that sent Barrett to the canvas. Barrett was able to recover, but still absorbed several more power shots in the first. The second round was another dominant one for Zalal, who used a hip toss to get the takedown and take Barrett's back, nearly finishing him with a choke. The striking totals in Round 3 were much closer, but Zalal was also able to secure his second and third takedowns of the fight, cementing his winning fate. The UFC might have something here in the 23-year-old, as Zalal has started his run with the company by posting a 3-0 record.
Will face Barrett
July 25, 2020
Zalal will replace Steve Garcia (undisclosed) and square off against Peter Barrett in a featherweight matchup at the UFC's Aug. 8 event, Mike Heck of reports.
Zalal joins this fight on short notice and is just one month removed from his victory over Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. The 23-year-old will take his unbeaten UFC record into the Octagon against Barrett, who will be making his debut with the company.
Remains unbeaten in UFC
June 27, 2020
Zalal defeated Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) at UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Blessed with a significant edge over Griffin in the striking department, Zalal dominated this fight on the feet en route to the victory. He landed the cleaner, more effective strikes, and quickly worked his way back to his feet any time Griffin managed to take him to the mat. Zalal -- who won't turn 24 years of age until September -- did a nice job of fighting to his strengths in this one. The competition level has been subpar (Griffin, Austin Lingo) but Zalal has now won his first two UFC bouts in a span of less than five months.