Billy Quarantillo appreciates Youssef Zalal’s skills, but has clear idea of UFC on ESPN 53 plan

LAS VEGAS – Billy Quarantillo has visions. He’s in them. He’s looking into the mirror to see a little bit clearer … and he thinks he has his next opponent figured out.

Quarantillo (18-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) takes on Youssef Zalal (13-5-1 MMA, 3-3-1 UFC) in a featherweight fight on the UFC on ESPN 53 main card Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Quarantillo was scheduled to fight Gabriel Miranda until he pulled out, so Zalal answering the call kept him on the card.

“I looked up his record. I watched some of his fights back. He was someone that I remembered in 2019, 2020, that I thought we were going to get matched up,” Quarantillo said at Wednesday’s media day.
I think we were both 3-0 at one point. Then I forgot about him because he wasn’t in the league (yet).”

They didn’t cross paths in Zalal’s first stint in the promotion, which included seven fights – but a four-fight winless skid to close it out. But he’s back in the UFC after three straight first-round finishes outside the organization.

Quarantillo said he doesn’t see any areas he’ll be lacking come fight night.

“As an opponent, I think he’s got a lot of skills. I don’t think this is a great matchup for him, though,” Quarantillo said. “He was talking about how he felt like he beat (new featherweight champion) Ilia Topuria (in 2020). I did not score it for him at all. He got taken down five times. He hasn’t beaten anyone with a winning record in the UFC. I think he’s 0-3-1 in his last four UFC fights. I do respect his skill set and I do know he’s entering his prime. He’s only 27. I have a lot of respect for him and everyone at his gym, but I see it a little more clear than other people see it, and I think I see it more clear than he sees how his career’s gone so far.”

Check out Quarantillo’s full media day interview in the video above.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 53.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie