Erion Zekthi: “One Year From Now, I’m In The UFC”

Fast-rising bantamweight contender Erion “The Albanian One” Zekthi is back in action at Shamrock FC 333 on Oct. 23 in St. Charles, MO, LIVE on FITE. Before he tries to improve to 6-1 with a fifth straight win, he spoke with FightBook MMA.

How did you get your nickname, “The Albanian One?” Over time people had trouble remembering my name, they refer to me as the Albanian or you go over there and train with the Albanian. Over time I’d be the only Albanian so they would say Albanian one and it kind of stuck. You can’t pick your nickname, it has to be given to you, or else they can come across as cringe. Luckily mine fits me pretty well, I think.

You’re 5-1 with four straight wins. Where do you rank yourself among the top prospects in Missouri? I am the top prospect in Missouri for bantamweight. I can do it all in the cage, I’m presentable and I’m great on the mic. The combination of violence with articulate speech makes me the total package. After this next fight, I will only push this fact more and solidify the narrative.

How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished so far? I feel nothing. I have a different mentality than other fighters I feel. I see a lot of fighters push their achievements and accolades trying to make a bigger deal about it than it is. So far, I’ve been doing mixed martial arts for 10 years and I feel I’m roughly halfway through my career, I’ll be doing this for at least another 10. So far, I haven’t done shit. What, I beat up 15 people? That’s nothing if I continue, I’m going to have to beat 15-20 more and they’ll all be better than the 15 I already beat up. I don’t stop to smell the roses because they haven’t bloomed yet. I just work, day after day. When I’m 40 and my body is broken and I can’t continue to compete at a high level, then I’ll sit down, turn around, and look back. Until then I don’t give a shit.

What do you want to prove in your upcoming fight? What’s your prediction for next weekend? I have nothing to prove in my next fight, to be honest, I know what kind of fighter I am. All that matters is the win and continuing my dream.

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Do you think an impressive win will get you a shot on Contender Series? Is that a path that you’d like to take to the UFC?  That would certainly be cool, I’d love to have an opportunity like that. However, I feel me going onto the big stage is not a question of if but a question of when. If I continue to work, continue to put people away, they’ll have no choice but to notice me and ultimately give me the opportunity ill deserve. 

Where would you like to be one year from today? I’ll be married and a husband, hopefully, a kid on the way. And preferably on the big stage. Realistically I’m 2-3 fights away from that, and I got this one coming up on October 23. I’m entering the next stage of my life where I’m wanting a family and to have children, if I’m going to continue to dedicate the time it takes to be successful in this sport, I need to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. One year from now, I’m in the UFC. I know this.


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