Before Rafael Fiziev was a UFC star he was a sponsored fighter at Phuket Top Team. The #6 ranked lightweight was trying to eke a living out of Muay Thai and living at the gym as part of a deal had had with the owner.
At least that is what Fiziev says in a lengthy Twitter post made in response to allegations that he owes money to Phuket Top Team for accommodation. That story was covered by MMA Mania a couple of days ago and the UFC star has come up with a very detailed explanation.
The entire story was outlined by Fiziev on Twitter this morning:
My side of the story… pic.twitter.com/ipIRgm2x73
— Rafael “Ataman” Fiziev (@RafaelFiziev) January 18, 2023
It is not a quick read so we will try to summarize it for you. Fiziev says in 2015 he was offered free training and accommodation by the gym in return for giving them 10% of his purse after every fight.
The 29 year old says he was living in a 10 square meter room provided by the gym along with his pregnant wife. Fiziev has earned a $50,000 USD bonus for each of his last five UFC fights so is hopefully living in better accommodation now!
In 2017 Fiziev was facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after breaking his hand fighting for Road FC. He was offered a job as a striking coach at Tiger Muay Thai and decided to take it, leaving Phuket Top Team for the rival gym which is located on the same road.
Fiziev is adamant that he was offered free accommodation by the gym and does not owe them anything. He points out that he has earned $250,000 USD worth of bonuses from his last five fights.
RAFAEL FIZIEV VS JUSTIN GAETHJE IS FINALIZED FOR LONDON
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) January 15, 2023
Bigger and better
Next up for Fiziev is a fight with #3 ranked Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 in London. The Kyrgyz fighter has clearly moved on to bigger and better things since the days when he was plying his trade on the Muay Thai circuit in Thailand.
But there is clearly some bad blood between him and Phuket Top Team. The monthly cost of a small room in Phuket is unlikely to be more than $200 USD so this clearly isn’t about the money.
In his post Fiziev makes it clear that,
It will be the last time I’m addressing this nonsense.
So it doesn’t sound like the high flying UFC lightweight is going to have anything more to say on the matter. It will be interesting to see whether there is a formal response from Phuket Top Team.