Malaysian longest running grassroots MMA promotion Ultimate Beatdown will play host to two fights featuring India vs Pakistan in the main and co-main event. In the main event, Pakistani Ahmed Mujtiba(1-0) will face Indian Sanjivan Padwal(2-1) while in the co-main Pakistani Faizan Khan(0-0) will face Indian Susovan Ghosh(1-2). The Indian fighters have been regularly featured in the Johor-based promotion while the Pakistanis, on the other hand, will make their debut this weekend on the rooftop of Plaza Sentosa.
To have a better understanding of the India-Pakistan rivalry, MMA Latest called upon Pakistani MMA pioneer Bashir Ahmad. Bashir Ahmad who currently fights for One Championship was greeted with a hero’s welcome when he returned to his home country after defeating Shannon Wiratchai on his One Championship debut. He has then further helped the growth of Pakistani MMA, implementing multiple projects for the country over the years.
The transcript of the interview below:
Tell us the brief history of the rivalry between Pakistan and India.
Well, the rivalry behind India and Pakistan is nothing but brief. It goes back to 1947! The rivalry is simple, India and Pakistan were one country and they became two. It’s just like the rivalry between Malaysia and Singapore except the stakes are much higher. That rivalry goes to everything and naturally you also see it in sports.
How will such a rivalry translate in the cage?
It will translate into the surety that both fighters were very motivated in their training camps. You know you are gonna see the best these guys are capable of. However, I don’t foresee any bad blood. In fact, there is more mutual respect as we are both the same people with small differences. We both eat roti! Expect sincere friendship and camaraderie after the fight. At least that’s what’s happens in the past.
Have there been any MMA fights between India and Pakistan within these countries?
There was an India and Pakistan fight once in Pakistan at PFC and then once at SFL. Each time the Indians won but to be quite honest with you, the matchups were not ideal. PFC wasn’t bad, Ahmed Ali put on a good show and some people made the case that he won. SFL had too many guys with little MMA experience going against much more well-rounded guys. It’s just part of the evolution. This time, however, we have two of our best guys, we know they are complete fighters. We can’t predict the future, but I see two wins for Pakistan in this one.
Why do you think the rivalry have to be played out overseas and not in Pakistan or India?
I don’t think there is any reason, in particular, the rivalry is being played out overseas except that it is not easy for Indians and Pakistanis to get visas to each other’s countries. Waqar Umar and Uloomi Karom were supposed to fight at SFL 2 in Chandigarh but as hard as I tried we had a very frustrating time getting the visa. I spent countless hours driving here and there trying to make it happen. When we had the Pak-India fight in Pakistan the Indian fighter had a US passport. So, that’s mainly why. Everyone knows how explosive an India-Pak fight can be and good on UB to see that and make it happen.
Ultimate Beatdown 18 will take place on the rooftop of Plaza Sentosa on the 28th of November in Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Highest Ranked Strawweight Outside of the UFC challenged Angela Lee to a title fight in One Championship
28 Years Old, Zhang Weili(16-1) from China has challenged Strawweight champion Angela Lee for her strap in One Championship according to a source close to the Chinese fighter. Zhang who is the champion and fighting for Chinese based promotion Kunlun FC is currently negotiating on a one fight deal to face Angela. According to the source, they would like to determine who is the best women fighter in Asia in a one-off match and would have no problems to fight under the One Championship banner.
Since her pro debut loss in 2013, Zhang has racked up 16 wins in 3 years with a total of 15 finishes. She is the number #6 ranked women strawweight in the World according to Fightmatrix.com, just behind Rose Namajunas who will be facing UFC champion and number #1 ranked strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title next month. Angela, on the other hand, is 9 rungs below Zhang at number 15.
While ONE was very eager to have a cross-promotion fight between Angela Lee and Joanna Jedrzejczyk to determine who has the better strawweight, they seem less eager to have a Kunlun FC champion on board for a one fight deal. The source states that ONE would need for Zhang to sign a 2-year exclusive contract first before discussing further for a fight with Angela.
If the source is accurate, ONE seems to be covering their bases this time and would not like for their champion to lose the belt to another promotion without securing Zhang on an exclusive contract. Kunlun, on the other hand, would also not want to lose their best fighter to another Asian promotion. Zhang would be a huge asset to ONE for their expansion in China but it would be tough for them to pry off the Chinese fighter as the source states that Zhang is being paid handsomely on Kunlun FC.
While things are looking bleak for a match between Angela Lee and Zhang Weili to happen in the ONE Championship cage, the fans will be keeping their fingers crossed and hope that they could witness a fight between two of the best women Strawweights in Asia.
Martin Nguyen to challenge Eduard Folayang’s title in Manila for the first champion vs champion fight in ONE Championship
After speculations on who Martin Nguyen’s next opponent when he signed a fight contract, ONE Championship have confirmed that Martin Nguyen is set to challenge Eduard Folayang’s lightweight title in Manila on ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD on 10 November.
The fight is the latest in a series of cross-division fights announced after Shinya Aoki vs Ben Askren and Aung La NSang vs Alain Ngalani, but this will be the first time the reigning ONE Championship titleholders from two weight divisions will clash.
Nguyen’s coach, Fari Salievski, did tease on the idea of Nguyen fighting for the title in different weight divisions , but he teased on a bantamweight division since Martin was underweight for his featherweight title fight against Marat Gafurov.
Despite being on the lighter side of a featherweight division, the new champion decided to challenge the title against a fighter a weight class above him, and opens the possibility of the first fighter in ONE Championship to challenge the title in 3 weight divisions.
“I’m not out only to make a statement, but to go down in history as the best to ever compete under the ONE Championship banner” – Martin Nguyen
ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD will be held in Malls of Asia Arena in Manila on 10 November 2017
Bashir Ahmad embraces new role in ONE Championship
Bashir Ahmad is appointed as the Senior Manager of Industry Partnerships, the role made to develop and strengthen the relationships between ONE Championship and various MMA gyms and promotions.
“Essentially, I see myself doing what I did in Pakistan and working to accelerate the growth of MMA in Asia with other players in the MMA scene,” Ahmad explained.
As the pioneer of Pakistani MMA, Bashir Ahmad has worked to promote MMA in Pakistan, most notably the Shaheen Gym project, a non-profit gym which serves to take at-risk youth off the street with the appeal and focus of MMA. With his new position in ONE, Ahmad believes he will be better positioned to develop MMA in Asia, particularly in his hometown Pakistan.
“I think it’s a win-win. I’ve learned about developing MMA in a really difficult market – Pakistan, and I bring that experience with me.”
“On the flip side, I get work with one of the world’s most professional martial arts brands and bring those lessons to my mission in Pakistan.”
4-3 on his professional MMA career, Ahmad has been fighting for ONE Championship since April 2013 and became the first ONE Championship athlete to make the transition from into the management role in the promotion. Despite this additional role, Ahmad is adamant that his new role in ONE Championship does not take him away from active competition.
“100% not retired. I can certainly train. If Martin can beat Gafurov while being a full-time mechanic, I can certainly train when I work in the MMA industry for a living. It’s about time management and training smart.”
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