Youssef Zalal has experienced many facets of the mixed martial arts game despite his young age and short tenure in the sport.
Zalal (10-2) is only three years into his professional career and he already has three UFC wins under his belt. The 24-year-old caught up with Fightful following his win over Peter Barrett at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Olenik. Zalal — the first UFC fighter to notch three promotional wins in 2020 — reflected on the significance of his two career losses.
"Everyone has their own journey... I was one of those kids who was going to be in the UFC at 6-0, and then I lost my two biggest fights. It was my first LFA main event and I lost that fight close," Zalal said. "My next fight, I was supposed to go to the Contender Series with a win. I lost that fight... It was hard but they were blessings in disguise. I needed those two lessons before moving on, I've only been a pro for three years. It's been a roller coaster, I'll tell you that. Non-stop fights, always staying ready and just trying to change my life."
Zalal has been a short-notice machine in the UFC, and he actually prefers it to the over-stimulation of long fight camps.
"You start doing media, and that's the first week. Second week, you are all excited about the fight and it gets dragged down through the fifth, sixth week," he said of the monotony. "It's part of the business though. You get a full camp, you take advantage of it. You get to focus on more recovery, more strategy. It's a win-win for me anyway."
The aptly named "Moroccan Devil" also dished on his favorite Moroccan cuisine.
"There's a lot. I mean, if you want to go traditional, you gotta go couscous. They do that every Friday," he shared. "But my favorite one is called tagine. It's the thing you cook it on. It's called tagine. You can make so much on that. You can make so much on that. We go freestyle. Beef, chicken, turkey, everything. You can mix anything and cook it for a long time, and eat it with bread."