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Only way is up for Zafir

By Mark Beale

MMA: Anton Zafir’s TKO loss to James Moontasri might have ended his UFC 193 experience on Sunday, but the Whitsunday Martial Arts Club coach says he’s just getting started in the sport.

The Proserpine State High School teacher was dominant in his welterweight bout at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, until suddenly felled by a vicious spinning-back kick to the liver from his German opponent with 30 seconds left in round one. Although he still had trouble breathing as late as Monday, Zafir said his liver wasn’t ruptured and he’d already resumed training, eager to build on the weekend’s unforgettable experience and further his career.

“The fight went well. I was calm and relaxed and knew what I had to do,” he said.

“I went to do something and he pulled off a perfectly timed spinning kick. Up until that point I definitely felt like I was on top of that fight.

“Once I had a look at the tape after the fight, I had out-struck, out-controlled, dominated him and landed more significant strikes.

“I was definitely in the lead and having a great time. I just made the wrong choice at the wrong moment … I zigged instead of zagged.”

Zafir clearly more than held his own against Moontasri, who has a 9-3 MMA record, which is particularly noteworthy considering the WMA coach had just eight days to prepare for the biggest fight of his life.

Knowing what he can achieve off limited preparation, Zafir is excited about what the future holds – having signed a four-fight contract with UFC.

“I’m definitely excited at what a full prep with my coaches can allow me to achieve,” he said.

“I didn’t feel any more fatigued at that point. Maybe if the fight had gone progressively I would’ve got tired, but I didn’t lose because of fatigue.

“I can’t wait to get the next opportunity and get back to work.”

Zafir thanked the Whitsunday community (which included packed venues like Capers and Magnums in Airlie Beach), his sponsors and coaches for their support.

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