Aiemann Zahabi

Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Aiemann Zahabi (red gloves) reacts after defeating Reginaldo Vieira (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a successful UFC debut, Aiemann Zahabi ‘ready for anything’ Sean Shelby throws his way

After a successful UFC debut, Aiemann Zahabi ‘ready for anything’ Sean Shelby throws his way

Aiemann Zahabi made his long-awaited UFC debut last month at UFC Fight Night 105 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, defeating Reginaldo Vieira by unanimous decision.

The now 7-0 undefeated bantamweight prospect was coming off of a string of first round finishes, most recently a stoppage of Kyle Oliveira at Prestige FC 2 back in June of 2016.

Heading into the second and third rounds of a fight was new territory for Zahabi. However, it was a place he enjoyed traveling to very much.

“I commend him (Vieira) for his cardio and his physical training for this fight,” Zahabi said while appearing on the SFLC Podcast.

“He was super-durable. A lot of his fights that I saw, usually in round two, round three, he starts to fade. He doesn’t usually have the same pop that he has in round one.

“In the fight he had with me I felt like every round he was bringing it. I had to bring it too, so I loved it! I don’t know if you guys noticed but at the beginning of the round, I came out smiling, just because I finally got to go to round three. I finally got to dig deep, and I was happy to show the UFC that I’m tough.”

Listen to the interview with Aiemann Zahabi below at 5:24 in

A fighter’s first experience inside the UFC octagon can be overwhelming at times. In Zahabi’s case, being a long-time coach and trainer at the world-renowned Tri-Star Gym in Montreal, it was best described, from a competitor’s aspect, as love at first fight.

“I was loving every minute of it,” Zahabi said. “It’s something that I’ve always loved to do. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, and I always wanted to be a part of the UFC club.

“I’ve trained a lot of UFC fighters. I have to work a lot to help the team. I love my brother (Firas) a lot, I love Tri-Star, I love the team and whatever I can do to help to keep the gym rolling and keep the gym going, so I took a back seat for a long time. I was really happy to get into the UFC and fight somebody who let me show a variety of my skills.”

While Zahabi’s debut was capped off with a victory, it wasn’t all perfection in his eyes. His performance was a good one, but like all fights, there is always room for improvement.

“I have a lot more respect for guys who can get in there and fight like they train,” Zahabi said. “I feel like I could’ve punched a little more. Maybe, I could’ve been more aggressive with my striking. I felt a little bit of nervousness, but after the fifteen minutes I was like, ‘Man, I can’t wait to get (back) in there.’ I can’t wait for the next one.”

Being a fighter with a lot of hype behind him, Zahabi felt that pressure heading into Halifax. The pressure he felt had little to do with nerves, but setting the table for a memorable UFC career. That all begins with that first fight.

“I knew most people would watch the first one,” Zahabi said. “People may not watch the second fight, or the third fight in the UFC. But the first one means a lot to a lot of people, so there was a little pressure like that in there.

“I’m happy with my performance and I feel like the next one, I’ll be able to be more of myself. Even though I looked relaxed already, I feel like I’ll be even more relaxed for the next one.”

‘The next one’ will hopefully be sooner than later for one of the UFC’s brightest bantamweight prospects. It looks like that date will be this summer as Zahabi is healing up from a minor injury to an extremely valuable organ, especially for a fighter.

“I had a corneal abrasion during the fight, a scratch to my eye,” Zahabi said. “I can’t take any punches until March 28th. From what I’m hearing, it’s looking like maybe June or July for me. I want to see! Seeing is like a big thing for me.”

As far as opponent goes, he’s leaving that up to Sean Shelby.

“Sean Shelby holds the cards,” Zahabi said. “I’m happy with anybody. I’ll fight a lot of different guys. That (Vieira) was my first fight against a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I thought I did pretty good on the feet, we’ll see what else they throw at me, maybe a wrestler, maybe they’ll throw me a striker.

“I’m ready for anything.”

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