The vacant Rise FC welterweight title needs a home, and where it winds up will be determined Saturday night.
Vancouver’s Saeid Mirzaei (1-0-1) will battle veteran Nicolae Cury (9-6, 1 NC) out of Pullman, WA in the co-main event slot of Rise FC 4 for welterweight gold in Victoria, B.C.
With two professional fights to go along with an extraordinary amateur career, Mirzaei, 27, said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to earn a title so early in his professional career.
“It means a lot to me; it means the world to me,” said Mirzaei in an interview.
“It was a great opportunity to get this, and I’m ready to go for it. I plan on getting to the UFC ASAP. I’m confident I can beat anyone in the world at welterweight with an eight-week camp.”
But before Mirzaei can wrap the belt around his waist, he must first contend with a durable veteran in Cury.
Mirzaei said he knows Cury will be his toughest test to date and said he has an immense amount of respect for what he does in and out of the cage.
“I’ve heard good things about my opponent. I have nothing but respect for him and he seems like a very good person. He’s a teacher of children, so I have a lot of respect for that,” said Mirzaei.
“I wish him good health, I wish him a great camp, and I hope he makes it safely.”
Up until two weeks ago, Mirzaei was still searching for his next fight after his previously-scheduled bout with Jose Rodriguez at Modern FC 3 fell through due to Rodriguez’s failed medicals.
Following an injury to Cury’s original opponent, Michael Hill, Mirzaei was offered the fight on short notice, which he gladly accepted.
He said although taking a fight on short notice against an opponent like Cury is risky, Mirzaei said he performs at his best when the stakes are high.
“I was looking for a fight, but not this short of notice. But it kind of panned out perfectly because I know I have the skills to win,” said Mirzaei.
“This is a bit dangerous, but I feel I perform better under pressure. I feel I have very good muscle memory of my skill-set, and I was always able to get ready for short notice fights in my amateur career.”
The short notice fight is a two-way street, however, as Cury, 39, had been preparing for four weeks to fight a much different opponent, stylistically, in Hill.
It’s situations like this Cury said an important skill to own as a fighter is the ability to adapt to change, and he feels he is fully capable of doing so in this situation.
“It’s definitely a very different fight. It seems like Saeid is a better grappler and has a longer reach than Hill, so he’ll be more dangerous in those aspects,” said Cury in an interview.
“But as a fighter, you have to be able to adapt. I think I’m on the level now where I’m pretty much able to deal with any opponent last-minute.”
In his 16-fight career, Cury has seen his share of tough opponents, including taking on Luis Santos (52-7 at the time) at Bellator 45 in just his sixth professional bout.
Cury believes the level of opponents he’s faced throughout his career and the number of tough, gritty battles he’s been a part of could factor in to Saturday’s contest with Mirzaei.
“I’ve had some brutal fights in the past. When I fought Luis Santos, he brought a different level of intensity to the fight,” said Cury.
“The fact that I’m more experienced, the fact that I’ve fought tougher guys, and the fact that I’ve been in more turbulent waters might play a factor and work in my favour.”
Although he does hold the significant edge in experience as a professional, Cury said he knows Mirzaei is far from inexperienced.
With 19 amateur bouts and an IMMAF World Championship in 2015 to his name, Mirzaei has competed with the best in the world at the amateur level, and Cury said he’s well aware of the talent Mirzaei possesses.
“He’s very talented and dangerous for sure, and has a ton of experience as an amateur,” said Cury.
“My view on fighting amateur or professional is there really is no difference. They’re all still dangerous, especially at the level Saeid fought. It’s an honour to fight him, and I think he’s a very talented fighter for sure.”
“I want to thank Mikhail Basharymov, James Wark, George Basargin, Nabil Salameh and Ken Tran at Titan MMA, Nicholas Ugoalah, my son for being the light of my life, my girl, Nicolae for accepting the fight.” Follow Mirzaei on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM
“I would like to thank all my sponsors: Great North Supplements, Mad Greek Restaurant, South Fork Public House, Porch Light Pizza, McCoy Plumbing & Heating. I’d also like to thank all my teammates at V7 Martial Arts.” Follow Cury on social media: FACEBOOK