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Updated February 24th, 2024 at 20:07 IST

Exclusive/ 'I am ready to die': UFC Fighter Daniel Zellhuber talks about Prado fight; reveals dream opponent

In an exclusive chat with republicworld.com, UFC Lightweight fighter, Daniel Zellhuber, cut out an expressive figure ahead of his fight against Francisco Prado.

Reported by: Prateek Arya
Daniel Zellhuber
Daniel Zellhuber | Image:Danielzellhuber/instagram
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The UFC action will transpire from Mexico City this week, and considering that, some of the prominent fighters from the El Águila Real are featuring in the main card. The Fight Card will be headlined by former UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno and a leading contender in the division, Brandon Royval. Besides that, an enthralling fight- Yair Rodriguez vs Brian Ortega- is also lined up for the event. However, our major focus is on the battle between the young martial artists, Daniel Zellhuber vs Francisco Prado.

Ahead of the scheduled date of the fight, Republicworld.com caught up with one of the protagonists of the fight, Daniel Zellhuber. We posed a variety of questions in front of the Golden Boy, and he humbly addressed each one of them. From being thrilled to fighting in front of his home fans to putting light on how life has taken a positive turn since entering into UFC, Zellhuber was quite expressive with his thoughts.

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Here are the entire excerpts from the conversation. 

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Q. First of all how excited are you to be fighting in Mexico City, in front of your home fans?

I think it is going to be a great experience for me, to have the opportunity to fight in front of my family and friends after almost 6 years, fighting out of the country, it is something that is always exciting. Besides that, it's been 6 years since my parents watched me fighting live, so that's another thing that is also exciting me. I am just happy for the opportunity, five years ago was the last time UFC came to Mexico, and I was a part of the crowd, I have the opportunity to be in the main card fighting beside my idols and completing a life dream. It is something that I was always excited about. I am just happy for the opportunity.

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Q. So, fighting at home, does it add an extra bit of pressure, that you have to deliver or just comes as a motivation?

No. I think that for some athletes can be but it is only a procedure. Having my friends, my family, my country beside me, more than the pressure, it is something that drives me more. I think that it gives me that extra energy. It is not a secret that I always say that fighting for the crowd is what makes me who I am. I remember when I was in the APEX. you really feel, I don't know you just start fighting when you are in the APEX, because you have that crowd energy, you have that excitement about fighting for somebody. So, now if you put together that I am fighting for a crowd and I am fighting for my family, for my friends, for my country, it just makes you bear. So, it's going to be my best performance because of that too.

Q. what are your thoughts on the fight and your opponent Francisco Prado?

I know that he is young, he is 22 years old. So, it is the first time, I am fighting a younger opponent than me, that's something funny. But at the same time, I feel that I am the more experienced guy coming into this fight. I feel that I have more experience in the UFC, even if not, I feel more well-rounded. I know Francisco is dangerous, he might be the strongest opponent that I ever faced, but even with that, I believe in my ability, I believe that I am the better man in that cage. I am going to be the better man in the cage and this is just another opportunity to prove that I am a complete fighter. If the fight goes to the 3rd round, I am just confident in my training. I feel that I am going to show that this Saturday.

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Q. We are not used to witnessing such young fighters against each other? You are just 24 and your opponent is even younger, so what is your message to the fans regarding the fight?

The message is don't lose this fight because it's going to be a banger. I believe that Francisco is a guy that likes to whack up, me neither. So, it's going to be war. As you say, we are young we are still at the peak of reflexes, and strength, we both need to learn way more things, probably we are going to meet again when we get to the top but by now it's just going to be an interesting fight. It's going to be a war. In my mind, I am ready to die in that fight, if it's necessary. There's no way I am going to lose in front of my family and my friends. So, Francisco must be ready to die too. 

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Q. You have been in the UFC for three years. So, how has life changed since you have clinched the UFC contract?

My life changed since move up to USA to pursue my dream. Leaving my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and making new friends actually, it's funny how life changed in a couple of years. Definitely being in the UFC can change your life and if you manage well your career, you prepare well enough, definitely you can be on the top and that's the plan. I am just grateful for being a UFC fighter, it was my dream since I was a kid. Not only being an MMA fighter but being a UFC fighter, because if you are in the UFC that means you are fighting the best level of competition in the world. So, that really can change your life, in a good way of course. 

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Q. Considering you have a long career ahead, who would be your dream opponent from past or present, a fighter you think would be fun to fight against?

There are a lot of names. Actually, I would love to fight Rafael dos Anjos, that will be one of my dream fights because I met him when I was 15 years old. He was the first UFC fighter, that I met, and actually I have a photo with him, when I was 15 years old. So, it would be great to have the opportunity, besides that I would look to fight maybe BJ Penn in his prime. Frankie Edgar, when he was Lightweight. Khabib would be one of the fights that everybody wants to see, how we do it so that's another fighter I would love to have. But right now I am just focusing on this fight with Francisco and then let's just wait for the next name. Go do my thing and keep climbing up the rankings. 

Q. Last question, your compatriot Brandon Moreno, who has a hero stature in your country, how do see his fight go against Brandon Royval?

I love Brandon Moreno, he's a friend of mine. We actually share the same boxing coach. So, I definitely trust that he's going to repeat the same thing that he did to Royval last time. I feel that he's going to go there and dominate the entire fight and after this fight, he will probably get back his title. For me, it's a live dream come true, fighting with Brandon and with Yair in the same main card with those guys is just an honour for me. Brandon is the first Mexican-born champion. He really carries that Mexican MMA standard and for me to be able to try to follow his steps is such an honour and I know at some point, I am going to be champion.

*Watch UFC Fight Night - Moreno vs. Royval on 25th February 2024 from 8:30 AM IST onwards LIVE on Sony Sports Ten 2 SD & HD, Sony Sports Ten 3 SD & HD (Hindi), Sony Sports Ten 4 SD & HD (Tamil & Telugu).

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Published February 24th, 2024 at 20:07 IST

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