You are browsing the archive for UFC.

How a pursuit of mastery turned Osipczak away from the UFC

November 29, 2016 in Features

It’s June 20th, 2009. ‘Slick’ Nick Osipczak forces Frank Lester to tap-out in the first ever UK v US Ultimate Fighter series in the United States. His unique submission move sees his name echo around the MMA community and reach the ears of the UFC.

Despite not making it past semi-finals of the competition, more performances in a similar vein to the one against Lester earn Osipczak a UFC contract.

Fast-forward a few months; Osipczak wins his first UFC fight and goes on to compete in four more after that until November 2010. That was his last fight in the UFC – a split decision loss to Duane Ludwig.

But why exactly did the British welterweight of Polish descent, who showed such promise, just vanish? After all, his combined MMA and UFC record was a positive 6-3 (as per Sherdog).

The decision

Nick recounts his first ever UFC win: “I just found myself in that situation [winning a UFC fight], it wasn’t a lifetime goal or anything like that.

“In fact, I would more likely have been thinking to myself around that time, ‘how did I come to be here, doing this?!’. One thing for sure is I knew I wouldn’t be like the majority of fighters who would compete continuously for as long as they could until their bodies gave up on them and had taken too many head shots.”

osipczak

Nick pounds on Matt Riddle for his second UFC win [image courtesy of Dave Mandel]

But the question remains – why did he just disappear with such a promising career beckoning? He makes a revealing comment.

“As UFC is first and foremost an entertainment business, it’s difficult to train optimally when you have to answer to their beck and call,” said Osipczak.

The key word in that sentence is “optimally”, as it helps explain what happened next.

Upon leaving UFC, Osipczak embarked on a journey to learn and master the internal arts – or more specifically, Tai-Chi Ch’uan.

This spiritual martial art that focuses heavily on mind, body and soul is one of the most demanding arts in the world and demands pure dedication from its students.

What began as a hobby has now consumed Osipczak’s life as a fighter – not only is he still a student, but he also teaches.

“We [students] are drawn to the feeling of ‘oneness’ that is experienced during complete presence of the moment.” says Osipczak. “For me, the Internals are a more direct route towards understanding the essence of the inter-connected workings of the mind, body and spirit.”

His devotion to learning the craft and its inner-workings is rare to see in someone previously involved in an activity which, by his own admission, was part of the entertainment business but with real blood.

“Cutting weight, fighting when and where they say, and doing the promotion side of things – it’s difficult to balance,” he said.

“For me, mastery is a life-time pursuit, whereas you only get a few shorts years to compete in the Octagon. I cannot say anyone has or will stop me from achieving mastery of the Martial Arts – the choice is mine.”

Tai-Chi Ch’uan

Osipczak is seen as one of the first fighters to develop the art of Tai-Chi within professional MMA, which has been showcased in his most recent fights outside the UFC.

Although Nick has been fighting professionally on and off since 2015, he isn’t tied to one specific competition or industry.

osip

Nick demonstrates some moves [image courtesy of Raised Spirit]

Carrying an entire art in a professional environment is an achievement that brings with it a lot of pressure for someone still trying to master the craft.

“Of course it [using Tai-Chi professionally] means there is a great responsibility on my shoulders, should I chose to contemplate that side of things too much,” Osipczak says, laughing.

But behind the laughter is someone with a deep respect for Tai-Chi and a hunger to absorb every part of its wisdom.

Tai-Chi Chu’an is said to have been created in 12th century China by Zhang Sanfeng and has since become one of the nation’s five most important martial arts, along with the likes of Kung-Fu.

The modern day version is practiced both as a means of self-defence but also for personal health, as it is viewed as a way of loosening muscular and bone-related pains, and burning fat.

Accuracy

There is a misconception that Tai-Chi is a martial art that is trained leisurely – something that pensioners incorporate as part of their daily stretching routine – but the execution of the art as self-defence can be brutal.

The focus is on eliminating the distinction between offence and defence, with each movement being powerful and all the while remaining rooted and balanced.

Essentially, that can make a fighter far more efficient inside the octagon – giving them an advantage over their opponent.

“I do not believe any one style or system holds a monopoly on knowledge. However, compared to my training before embarking on my Tai-Chi journey, more emphasis was given to the ‘softer’ side of training, with balance always at the forefront of the mind, and longevity as one of the primary goals,” said Osipczak.

When speaking, Osipczak gives off a vibe of gentleness and intelligence rare in sporting figures. He speaks like a master of the arts; a quote-machine in his own right.

Better fighter

While the 31-year-old values personal development over a career with the UFC, it was interesting to hear how he rates his previous career.

“Iron sharpens iron, as they say. I was only 3-0 as a professional fighter when I entered the UFC, and had only been training in MMA for four years. Being thrown in with the sharks is a good way to learn how to swim,” he says.

“I have started to see my career more in terms of how many people can I have a positive effect on during my lifetime”

“In terms of professional fighting, competing for the UFC is widely acknowledged to be the pinnacle. However, how well I did battling other men will carry little weight as I approach my death bed, and so I have started to see my career more in terms of how many people can I have a positive effect on during my lifetime.”

But, the million-dollar question remains: will the fighter formerly known as ‘Slick’ Nick ever return to the octagon?

“I don’t know. I feel I am still a few years away from reaching my peak. I am happy with the rate I am currently improving, and am putting a lot of my time and energy into raising my family and teaching workshops.

“If I do return to competition, it will be to represent the Internal Arts, and demonstrate their superior efficiency,” he asserted.

Teacher

Tai-Chi Ch’uan’s health benefits mean it is growing in popularity in the UK. But Osipczak is not one for forcing it on people.os

“I try not to see things in terms of what people should or shouldn’t do – simply, when the student is ready, the teacher appears,” he says.

“But I’m sure Tai Chi will explode in popularity over the next few years, not too dissimilar to the way yoga has done before.”

Osipczak also admits that teaching still the best way of learning, which is why both are so important to him.

“Much of my enjoyment and fulfilment comes from furthering my competence of Tai-Chi Ch’uan, so for me it is a bonus that I can share the benefits of it with so many others,” said Osipczak.

Supernova

supernovaIn his first career, the 31-year-old was known as Slick Nick. But now, he is looking to develop a new persona and nickname for his on-going journey representing the Internal Arts.

“When I returned to competition after a five-year break, I knew I was a completely different fighter to the one that had competed before so ‘Slick’, no longer seemed appropriate.

“I knew a new one would pop up organically, and the day before my fight, I saw the photo hanging in my hotel room, labelled ‘Supernova’ – I knew a fit had been found.”

Much like a supernova, Osipczak will be hope his career continues to shine with unparalleled brightness.

You can find Nick’s classes here [http://raisedspirit.com/index.html]. He will also be hosting workshops in Goa (February) and Oxfordshire (June).

 

 

YouTube Preview Image

Pickett relishing underdog status

November 23, 2016 in Interviews

Nothing in the fight world is more endearing than the lifer who has toiled in the shadows, dreaming of that one shot at greatness. 

Britain’s Brad Pickett gets his ‘Rocky’ moment next month when he faces former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion Urijah Faber.

Pickett is skilled and resilient, and his December 17th showdown in Sacramento is the chance for him to throw a spanner in the works, with Faber planning a final victory before hanging up his gloves in front of his hometown crowd.

As Pickett enters the octagon in Sacramento’s new downtown arena, he will be alone under the lights and a long way home.

The atmosphere will be raucous as thousands of shirtless men sing for Faber under a swaying thicket of upraised arms.

Underdog 

Faber (33-10) enters the bout riding the toughest stretch of his lengthy mixed martial arts career.

The 37 year old, nicknamed the ‘California Kid’ has struggled in his previous fights and has only sandwiched a victory over Frankie Saenz before losing to Frankie Edgar, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and most recently Jimmie Rivera at UFC 203.

Pickett, meanwhile, is just as desperate as his American counterpart as the East Londoner risks being trapped in a spiral of defeat, having lost four of his last five bouts.

The slugger was submitted via triangle choke against Iuri Alcantara at UFC 204 in Manchester, and a win over Faber is of huge importance according to the 38-year-old.

“This fight is huge for me,” admits Pickett. “I want to cause an upset – I’m a professional fighter and that’s what I’ll look to do always.

“There’s no pressure on me… I’m just focused on turning up and spoiling his party”

“I have to come forward a lot but I’m in a situation where I’ll be a massive underdog and fighting him in his hometown.

“But I think I can impose myself on anyone against the world. Faber should be worried about my power and he’s going to try to grapple and wrestle me but I need to focus on my wrestling defence a little bit.

“I’m confident and I feel I can knock him out. We have the same style and we’ve been in the fight game a long time, so there’s not a lot of things we haven’t seen before. I think it’ll be a competitive fight.

“Faber is retiring as well so everything will be all about him, so I’m basically going there to make the numbers up. There’s no pressure on me and I like that because I’m not there for him. I’m just focused on turning up and spoiling his party.”

Preparation 

Nicknamed ‘One Punch’, Pickett is known for an exciting style that has garnered him seven WEC/UFC fight night bonuses, including five ‘Fight of the Night’ honours.

Pickett (25-12) is one of the UFC’s most likeable fighters but after talking to key players Dana White and Sean Shelby about not being at the forefront of the company as he’d like, the fight against Faber got arranged swiftly.

“I spoke to Dana White about not being in the main picture as I would have liked to be,” says the 38-year-old.

“Then the next day Sean Shelby gave me a call and we discussed my fight against Iuri Alcantara and then at the end of the call he asked if I wanted to fight Faber next month in Sacramento.

“I was ecstatic and instantly thought it would be a great opportunity to test myself against an opponent like Faber.”

His preparation for the contest has been gruelling but Pickett says he is in really great shape ahead of the fight.

“Training is going really well,” he says. “It’s the first time I’ve gone from fight schedule to fight schedule and I’ve been in really good shape.

“I was obviously already in great shape from my last fight against Alcantara but now it’s just a case of ticking over and recharging the batteries a little bit.

“I’ve done a lot of my camp here in the UK and I will finish my camp in America so things are going nicely.”

Regrets 

Pickett still harbours regrets about his loss to Alcantara at UFC 204. The fight was a great spectacle for the fans, but in hindsight the Brit believes it was a one he shouldn’t have taken.

The former Cage Rage British Featherweight champion accepts that fighting a southpaw of Alcantara’s ability was a mistake.

“The fight was a tough one for me,” he admits. “I always knew that I didn’t like southpaws. I’d never fought one before.

“Whenever I trained with a southpaw, I wasn’t fond of it, and I had to train hard for the [Alcantara] match-up.

“I didn’t understand how much of a completely different game it was. I was up for the challenge before but I would never fight a southpaw again.”

Striking style 

Things could have turned out differently as Pickett had been scheduled to fight Henry Briones, but his opponent picked up an injury. He admits that he wanted to fight so badly that he wasn’t really bothered about who it was against.

Pickett alongside boxing and UFC journalist Gareth A Davies

“The fight wasn’t for me. The striking style was hard and he’s massive but I would never turn down a fight regardless.

“After Briones pulled out, I got offered three other fights.

“I said yes to them all but they started pulling out as it got closer to fight night, I thought man I need to get a fight booked. I then got offered Iuri and I said fuck it, I’ll take it.

“I was in camp getting ready for a fight and I wanted to make sure I had one, so I wasn’t in a position where I was going to say no to anyone.

“The fight was the worst possible outcome. I’ve lost fights before but I didn’t get a chance to do anything and that really sucked so I was happy to get straight back in there with this fight against Faber.”

Ambitions 

Pickett’s will to win still burns brightly after a long career in which he has given his all and earned notable wins against the likes of Demetrious Johnson, acknowledged as one of the best fighters in the world.

His fight against Faber will earn him the chance to shock the world again and Pickett insists that he will leave everything in the octagon on fight night.

“My style has always been the same,” he says. “I’ve always gone for it and I will again against Faber. I’m definitely going to get to work and keep the pressure on him.

“I want to use my brute power and hopefully put on a good show in front of the American public. My main objective is to win and spoil Faber’s party and once the fight is over, I just want to spend some time with my family and enjoy the festive period.”

You can follow Brad Pickett on Twitter and Instagram at @One_Punch

Five successful sporting switches

November 8, 2016 in Features

We all have an occasional urge to do something new to freshen up our lives, and trying out a new sport is one way of doing it.

But imagine if that urge could lead to a potentially lucrative and dazzling new career when you’re already made a name for yourself as a sportsman.

The most recent star to switch from one sport to another is former Bundesliga goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who made a successful WWE pro-wrestling debut in Munich.

We look at five other moves that paid off.

5. Andrew Flintoff – from cricket to boxing to cricket

Flintoff strikes a pose. Pic by Adam Cool© , flickr creative commons

Many cricketers have shown their talents for other sports. Dennis Compton, for example, played 78 Tests for England but also had a successful career as a footballer with Arsenal.

England legend Sir Ian Botham also played football whilst playing Test cricket, while South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes played hockey and was actually selected to represent his country at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

A more recent familiar example is Andrew Flintoff’s decision to try professional boxing after retiring from cricket. The former England all-rounder made his pro debut in Manchester 2012 against Richard Dawson from the US.

It ended successfully for Flintoff as he won the fight, which was filmed as part of a TV documentary about his switch from the pitch to the ring.

However, ‘Freddie’ decided to quit while and he was ahead opted instead to make a cricketing comeback.

He came out of retirement to compete for Lancashire in the 2014 Natwest T20 Blast, and also went to Australia later that year to play in the Big Bash for the Brisbane Heat, before finally calling it a day.

4. Adam Gemili – football to athletics

Team GB sprint star Adam Gemili’s footballing career started at Chelsea as a youth player since at the age of eight, and he went on to ply as a defender for Dagenham & Redbridge and Thurrock FC.

Maybe he suspected deep down that soccer stardom was out of his reach, so he opted to develop his other talent – for running fast – instead and left football behind in favour of athletics in 2012.

His most successful achievement on the track to date came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when he finished second in the men’s 100m final.

Still only 23 years of age, he’s surely on course to add to his medals tally on the international stage in the next few years.

3. Fabien Barthez – from football to motorsport

MOTORSPORT - GT TOUR 2012 - PAUL RICARD - LE CASTELLET (FRA) - 26 TO 28/10/2012 - PHOTO : FLORENT GOODEN / DPPI - BARTHEZ FABIEN - TEAM SOFREV ASP FERRARI 458 ITALIA - AMBIANCE PORTRAITFormer Manchester United star Fabien Barthez was known as a fabulous shot stopper, and was named ‘keeper of the tournament as France won the 1998 World Cup.

He also helped his country to win Euro 2000, and won plenty of league titles and cups at club level for the likes of United, Marseille and Monaco.

After retiring in 2007, he swapped football strips for racing suits as he developed a successful career in motorsport.

He has competed in competitions including the Porsche Carrera Cup France, the FIA GT Series and Caterham Sigma Cup France.

In 2013 he was crowned French GT champion, and in 2014 took part in the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driving a Ferrari 458, he and his co-drivers finished 29th overall and ninth in their class.

2. Sonny Bill Williams – from rugby league to boxing to rugby union

Sonny Bill Williams has had an extraordinary career. An true icon to many, the New Zealander has achieved a ton of success in his time.

From winning two Rugby World Cups and several honours in rugby league, to remaining unbeaten in his boxing career, Williams is surely on of the greatest athletes in the world.

He started out in rugby league, playing for the Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters as well as for New Zealand.

He then decided to make a switch to boxing and was unbeaten in seven fights, winning them all, including three by knockout, and claiming the New Zealand heavyweight crown and WBA international belt along the way.

However, rugby union came calling again and he returned to the 15-man code in time to become part of the All Blacks squad which won the 2011 World Cup, helping them to retain it in 2015.

1. Brock Lesnar – multi-sport athlete

Not only he can fight, he can play American football too. Brock Lesnar has success written all over him.

Winning multiple championships in the WWE and New Japan pro-wrestling – as well as dominating the MMA/UFC scene – he also had a brief spell at the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL.

Lesnar signed with WWE in 2000, making his main roster debut in 2002. He went on to become the youngest undisputed WWE champion at the age of 25, a King of the Ring and Royal Rumble winner as well as ending Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak in 2014.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast’, Lesnar put his WWE career on hold in 2004 in order to pursue a career in American football as a defensive tackle. He was recruited by the Minnesota Vikings for the 2004-05 campaign and played several pre-season games but was then cut from their roster.

UFC came calling, and it was a fresh challenge for Lesnar. He had nine fights, winning six of them, but has now returned to the WWE and has a bout against Goldberg in the Survivor Series on November 20th.

The rise and rise of UFC

October 21, 2016 in News & Features

Once seen as a brutal, bloody and barbaric sport with murky if not borderline illegal ‘cage fighting’ origins, UFC is now watched by millions around the world.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship was devised to discover the most effective martial art in bouts with minimal rules between competitors from different combat disciplines, and is now the face of mixed martial arts (MMA) — a term first used by TV critic Howard Rosenberg after UFC 1 in 1993.

“23 years after its inaugural event at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, UFC has evolved into a global phenomenon”

Since then, UFC has become the largest promotion company in MMA, absorbing rivals such as Pride, World Extreme Cagefighting, Strikeforce and the International Fight League in the process.

Some 23 years after its inaugural event at the McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado, UFC has evolved into a global phenomenon, sweeping across the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe on its journey to becoming the sporting powerhouse we know it as today.

So why is UFC becoming such a big thing in the UK?

UFC roster

From better accessibility to promotion via social media, there are various explanations to why UFC is gaining more recognition in the UK. But the roster of the number one MMA promotion, ultimately, represents its largest pull.

In recent years, the likes of Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, have all produced jaw-dropping moments in the most incredible of fights to help put UFC and MMA on the map.

YouTube Preview Image

Likewise, UFC’s roster of exceptional female fighters, which includes Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg to name a few, has also been good advertisement for the brand and sport.

However, two fighters in particular stand out from the rest as individuals who are heavily responsible for UFC’s growth in popularity both in the UK – Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping.

McGregor

McGregor is largely considered right now as one of the best fighters in the UFC and arguably the MMA promotions’ most popular figure among fans.

“McGregor’s behaviour outside the Octagon has helped him transform into a fighter that even non-UFC fans want to follow”

Dublin-born McGregor made his UFC debut in 2013 against Marcus Brimage, instantly making a name for himself after knocking out the American in the first round.

The 28-year-old has since elevated himself to the top of the UFC, reigning as the UFC featherweight champion and featuring in several of UFC’s most viewed fights of all-time.

UFC 194: Aldo v McGregor, UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz and UFC 202: Diaz v McGregor 2, rank as three out of the four most sold UFC pay-per-view cards ever, showing the pulling power the Irishman has brought to Dana White’s organisation.

©Wikimedia Commons

McGregor’s record of 20 wins and three losses, which includes a UFC featherweight championship victory over Aldo after a record (13 seconds) title fight first-round knockout, shows how good a fighter he is and why everyone is eager to watch him in action.

But the fighting skills of ‘The Notorious’ are not the only draw.

McGregor’s behaviour outside the Octagon has helped him transform into a fighter that even non-UFC fans want to follow.

His arrogant persona, X-rated rants and often amusing social media posts, grab the attention of many and sway them towards taking an interest in his career.

Bisping

In addition to McGregor, Bisping, who successfully defended his UFC middleweight championship against Dan Henderson at UFC 204, has played a huge part in helping UFC to increase its fanbase in the UK, having been raised in Manchester.

©Wikimedia Commons: Michael Bisping(L)

But as well as influencing fans, MMA writer Nick Strickland also believes Bisping has had a huge impact on UK-based MMA fighters and has opened a gateway for them as a result of his success.

“I think without Bisping the UK scene and the fighters would not have been given the right opportunities to fight around the world,” Strickland said.

“I’m not saying the other fighters are not good enough and would not have made it, but it was Bisping who brought the attention to the United Kingdom.

“He opened the doors for all the UK fighters as we all saw when he coached in the Ultimate Fighter: Team UK vs. Team USA, a show that was dominated by the UK athletes.”

Other promotions

Thanks to fighters such as McGregor and Bisping, UFC has made its mark in the UK, but Strickland suggests there’s also room for other MMA promotions to gain an audience.

“They [UFC] usually hold about 90% of the talent right now but saying that Bellator MMA has a phenomenal roster of fighters who could give UFC fighters a run for their money on any given day,” the MMA writer said.

“Local shows are where the talent is grown so promotions like Cage Warriors, UCMMA and now ACB Fighting League are super important for the growth of the sport here and around the world. Either one of these promotions, with the right roster of fighters and shows could make its mark in the UK market.”

Since 2009, UFC programming has reached over 1.1 billion television households across the world, according to Forbes.

And while it may not yet be able to produce a fight that could match the viewing figures of a Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao or potential Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko bout in boxing, UFC’s popularity continues to grow within the UK and around the rest of the world.

Featured Image: ©BogoGames

Mamadaliyev eyes MMA greatness

October 19, 2016 in Interviews

It has been a while since Ilyaz Mamadaliyev set foot in the derelict warehouse in Dayton, Ohio, where he trained for many years.

Back then, he was a boy dreaming of MMA stardom. Now he is a promising young fighter determined to turn his big ambitions into reality.

In the intervening period, things have changed considerably for Russian-born Mamadaliyev, who has grown from a timid, bullied youngster with depression to become a fledgling talent with the potential to become a UFC powerhouse.

The 18 year old is happy to bide his time. He has gained plenty of attention since his MMA debut in July, but that does not mean he wants to take shortcuts to get to the top.

Putting Ahiskans on the map

Mamadaliyev grew up in the Russian village of Kolos in a family of Ahiskan Turkish heritage. He emigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings aged eight.

It pains him that so few people have any awareness of his culture, but hopes to put it on the map by making history in the UFC.

“As a group of people, we are not well known,” says Mamadaliyev. “I get a little perplexed and surprised when people are not aware of what and who Ahiskan people are.

“I want to be the first Ahiskan in the UFC to win a fight and stay in the UFC.

“I believe I can show something new as a fighter. My personality will ensure that a lot of people support me, and fingers crossed that I provide special moments for my people in the future.”

Racial abuse

Yet the first steps on the road to stardom have not been plain sailing.

As the presidential race in America between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton hots up, Mamadaliyev has experienced instances of Islamophobic behaviour, fuelled at least in part he believes by Trump’s views.

“I love America because it is the land where everyone has opportunities”

However, he insists he has become stronger for it.

“Back in September, I was discriminated against for my religion. It was the first time I had experienced such abuse in the US.

“I was at a Chinese restaurant with my cousin (Eldar, 26) and my two younger brothers aged 10 & 16. As we sat down at a table and started to eat, I noticed that a man and his wife were sitting a table away from us. The individual started eyeing us up and started shouting things like ‘Look at those Muslim goat fuckers’.

“The man went up to get his food and I felt this vibe from him as if he had so much hatred in his eyes and was eager to start a fight. I felt very bad in this moment.”

A less mature head on a young fighter’s  shoulders might have lost his cool, but the 18-year-old insists it was crucial he kept calm.

“I knew the guy wanted to fight me,” says Mamadaliyev, “but I was not going to hit him because I know that if I touched him it would hamper my career prospects.

“He continued to shout things like ‘They should go back to their own fucking country’, but I remained calm. After I left the restaurant, I thought about the incident the whole night but then I remembered that one man’s actions does not mean everyone is the same.

“I love America because it is the land where everyone has opportunities. If I lived in Russia, I would never have become a fighter so I will continue to grow and become a better person.”

Family

In a fledgling career including just a handful of fights so far, he insists he has gained a new level of maturity and responsibility, and offers gratitude to his loved ones.

“Without my family I would be nothing – they complete my life”

“Family is so important to me,” says Mamadaliyev. “I love having a family of eight people, living in one house.

“My grandma, parents, aunt, cousin and two brothers complete my life. I have promised them a new house in a good neighborhood once I have turned professional.

“My cousin Eldar did not have the opportunity to fight in the cage and since I do, I am dedicating it to him.

“Without my family I would be nothing. My dad Zakir, helps me sell my tickets but my mother and aunt avoid the fights because they are scared to see me get hurt.

“They pray for me to come out healthy but that’s part and parcel of the fighting game. What does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

Mamadaliyev alongside his mother and aunt

Debut win 

Mamadaliyev, speaks eloquently as he discusses his scintillating debut win in a performance that was highly praised within the amateur ranks.

That bout in Dayton saw him earn victory in a brutal manner as the youngster bloodied his more experienced opponent to seal a unanimous decision.

“It was the best moment in my career so far,” he says, laughing happily at the recollection.

“I had a great training camp and my fight was literally a day after my birthday, so I was excited to give myself a present. I showed up to the weigh-in and saw my opponent for the first time.

“From what I remember, he was a lot taller and much older. I believe he must have been about 28 years old. We had a stare down and I looked him in the face and I smiled.

“Although, I am just becoming an adult, I have big plans. I do not fear anyone and there was no way I was going to lose that fight.

“I got hit a couple of times but I knew that was needed in order to win, and by the end of it I had my hand raised.”

Depression

Nicknamed the ‘Turkish Assassin’, Mamadaliyev struggled with his confidence at school and negative experiences left him suffering from depression.

“There was bullying happening all over the place,” he recalls. “I was always quiet and I hated violence, so people would take advantage of me.

“I hated bullies but I never confronted them and this meant I did not train enough and at one point back in

Mamadaliyev alongside his training team

2015, I was out of shape and weighed 195lbs. I gained 50lbs because I was stressing about life and my anxiety and depression got the better of me.

“I believe leaving everything behind in Russia including my family was what caused this stress, but in theory it is what has made me stronger today.

“God puts you through life situations and when you get past them it means you were capable and strong enough, and for that I will forever be thankful.”

Support

With hopes of emulating UFC megstars such as Conor Mcgregor, Mamadaliyev says he is delighted with the support and confidence he has gained from well wishers within the sport.

“The fans are the ones that drive me on. I’ve got 50,000 or so followers on Twitter and 30,000 followers on Instagram, and every one of those fans motivate me with their comments and messages.

“It makes me happy that so many people know me.

“Many fans and coaches in have compared me to the ‘Notorious One’ (Mcgregor) because of my movement and kicks, but that man is a legend and I would never compare myself to him.

“It just makes me happy to know that I am doing something right and people are cheering me on.”

Achieving history 

A product of Dayton’s Heated Combat MMA training centre, Mamadaliyev has grown in the fight game, and you could be forgiven for wondering if he has experienced too much too soon.

However, his maturity is steering him on the right path as he aims to climb up MMA ladder and eventually make his mark amongst the sport’s elite.

“I hope to become a big name and a world champion”

“I am focused on my goals, and the only thing in my head right now is that I want to turn professional before the end of 2017,” insists Mamadaliyev.

“This is my life. I want to start making this my living, and once I have graduated from high school next year, I will take a month or two to fly out to a top MMA gym.

“I hope to become a big name and a world champion. I have one shot in this industry and I am going to do everything to ensure that I end up being a success. Failing is not an option for me so the only way is up.”

Follow Mamadaliyev on Twitter @Official_ilyaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skip to toolbar