At 23, Fares Ziam is already one of the most talented French fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA).
“I want to write my name in the UFC and be champion.” In 2007, just ten years old, Fares discovered MMA and quickly designed his dream. It must be said that in the family of the young man, combat sports reign supreme. His father is a former professional boxer and his brothers are in turn today. But it was the small screen that would decide its future. “I discovered the UFC thanks to RTL 9 which was the first channel to broadcast fights, and I went crazy about it immediately,” Fares recalls.
When he joined Team Ezbiri, with Fouad Ezbiri (former world kickboxing champion) as his coach, Givordin was not yet aware of the full extent of his potential, but his career plan was well defined: join the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). However, the road is long, very long to travel. “In high school, I finished classes at 6 pm. My mother took me by car to Villeurbanne. I then went on boxing from 6 to 8 p.m. then jujitsu at 8:30 p.m. I took the 10:24 pm train to Part-Dieu, I returned home every day around 11 pm. Some days it was harder to motivate yourself ”.
However, Fares’ sacrifices and tireless efforts made his one dream come true. “I was with friends, and my manager called me to tell me that the UFC offered me a contract for four fights including one, three weeks later, in the Nurmagomedov-Poirier card. I thought it was a joke at first (laughs) ”, explains the young prodigy. “Then I went straight to the United States”.
The beginnings of a promising adventure
Ziam switches, at that moment, into a new dimension even if he is already a seasoned fighter (10 wins, 2 losses in MMA). In France, making a living from MMA was very difficult before legalization, many fighters went abroad to support themselves. At the UFC? The salary is much more interesting with the first games paid around 10,000 € for the fight and 20,000 € for the victory.
The standing of the fighters also changes with the largest federation of mixed martial arts. “Which attracts a lot more sponsors”. Last September, the long-awaited moment in the Frenchman’s young career arrives. Fares enters the big league with his first fight.
Following the withdrawal of Magomed Mustafaev, he challenges the South African Don Madge, losing in points and with honors. “I had never been in danger, but I ran into an experienced opponent, good tactically. I learned from this fight ”, insists the“ Smile Killer ”. Why this nickname? “My manager gave me this nickname because I smile all the time, in training, in weighing against the opponent … But from the start of the fight, my smile evaporates and I become a killer », Reveals the latter.
The confinement, slowing his rise, the striker (specialist in foot-fists) worked a lot on wrestling, an essential discipline in MMA like the specialist and king of the discipline Khabib Nurmagomedov, now retired. “With Issa, my teammate at Team Ezbiri, who was French wrestling champion, we are still working on this point because I still have to improve”, explains the Givordin. According to his “wrestling coach”, Fares learns quickly, very quickly. “He will always remain a striker but he does not hesitate now to try to put his opponent on the ground, he is progressing well, it is a good omen,” said Issa Sanfratello, also a pro in MMA.
“They always want to fight on the ground against me”
And for its second fight, more than a year later, the Givordin made use of its various trainings. Opposed to the Australian Jamie Mullarkey (26 years old, 12 wins-4 losses), Fares Ziam won by unanimous decision (29-28) in a very balanced and tough fight. Taken to the ground three times, Fares Ziam wins thanks to his percussion and his boxing efficiency. “They always want to fight on the ground against me. This is what I had failed me the last time against Don Madge but the training pays off, ”notes Ziam, relieved of this snatch victory, which is finally launching his career.
The young man, very ambitious and sure of himself, does not intend to stop there. “What motivates me is to be the best, to be number 1. I have had this competitive spirit since I was little. I cannot aim for anything other than the lightweight (-70kg) belt. When I leave the locker room I only think about victory, I tell myself that I was made for that ”.
The following ? Fares did not lack daring in announcing at a press conference that he would be ready to enter the Octagon with the very experienced Bobby Green (27-10-1). The latter replied on Twitter: “If he talks about me, I’ll come see him.” “The fight has not yet been decided by the UFC, but American fans love the show and I want to give it to them,” insists Fares.
His wrestling coach is even more confident by predicting a fairly easy victory for his foal. “Fares is too tall in height (1.86m) for Bobby and would counter him quite easily. For me, it’s won in advance, ”he says. Fares Ziam is undoubtedly not finished climbing the ranks.
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