At AFL 19: Night of Champions Zebenzui Ruiz (7-3) will square off against Thiago Martins (18-10) for the vacant bantamweight title. It is a rubber match between the two fighters with both men owning a win over the other. Now at AFL 19 they get to settle the score and the winner gets crowned the new AFL bantamweight title.
We sat down with Ruiz recently to speak about his recent fight at Combate Americas, his contests with Thiago Martins, and competing on AFL 19.
AFL: How do you feel after your recent fight in Combate Americas? What did you learn from that experience?
Zebenzui Ruiz: I feel really motivated after this fight to get back to winning ways. I was super tired by the time change, which killed me as I did not rest. The next time I will go three weeks before.
AFL: What do you think about competing on AFL 19?
ZR: I can’t wait. Fighting for the AFL belt motivates me so much as it is the best belt and best event in the country.
AFL: What do you think of your first two fights with Thiago Martins?
ZR: The first fight showed me that you can never underestimate an opponent. I gained a lot of experience from this. The second fight went as I had planned with my team.
AFL: You have been in the cage with him twice. What do you think of him as a fighter and where do you think you have the advantage?
ZR: I think Thiago is a very smart fighter and has a lot of experience in the fight game. But I feel my strong point is that I am a complete all round fighter and I am always ready no matter when the fight goes whether it is striking, in the clinch, or on the ground.
AFL: It’s been a couple of years since you two fought for the last time. How much have you grown as a fighter since then?
ZR: Since the last fight in 2016 with Thiago I’ve grown quite a lot as a fighter. I have much more experience, I’ve travelled for fights, I’ve a few more finishes. I feel I am at my best.
AFL: Is there any kind of rivalry between the two of you? Any bad feelings?
ZR: Outside the cage there are no bad feelings. However, inside the cage there is a rivalry, we both have a win over each other and we need to settle this tie break.
AFL: Can I get a prediction for the fight?
ZR: I am ready for the any game he wants to use. I plan on giving everything in the cage and leave as champion.