To put it in the simplest sense, Bashir Ahmad is a fledgling MMA fighter. He’s been celebrated around the Muay Thai circuits, however he’s only had two professional MMA bouts to date – both wins. But he’s already accomplished more for the MMA scene at home, in Asia, and globally than many fighters have in their entire careers with the sport. Ahmad started out his ambitious plan by giving back to the community in the form of opening up Pakistan’s first actual MMA gym. Through daily rolling brown-outs of electricity, he kept classes rolling in 40-degree plus temperatures. He funneled his personal savings into the venture and rapidly increased the scale to include Pakistan’s first MMA promotion and the development of an amateur athletics league. And then, he took his first pro fight.
Now Ahmad is about to go toe to toe with his second foe at ONE FC 10 in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 13, 2013. It’s no small matter, as it will (again) be in front of a huge crowd, and his opponent has a highly-touted skill set, being a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is a coach at Evolve MMA. But he sees Bruno Pucci as more than the sum of his accolades, and he has been preparing well for the challenge. During fight week, Ahmad had some time on his hands to relax, and we had a nice conversation. He was very open with MMA-in-ASIA about his upcoming fight, his efforts in Pakistan, and how the ONE FC network has enabled his life to completely change.
MMA-in-ASIA: When I first met you, you were just a humble guy trying to make a go of it at opening an MMA gym in Pakistan. Now you’re internationally known and people actually tell me, “Oh, I got to meet Bashir.”
Ahmad: Seriously? That’s weird.
MMA-in-ASIA: But true! What has being involved with ONE FC as a network before actually becoming a pro fighter done for you?
Ahmad: I was signed to ONEFC before being a pro actually but being part of the network has made the Asian scene very real. It’s made everyone feel like they mean something. Before I was just a random guy and there were other randoms like me throughout Asia just following their hearts and having fun. The ONEFC network made everyone sit up and really think about the impact they have had in the scene.
MMA-in-ASIA: Do you think they are setting the trend in Asia?
Ahmad: I think the individuals are setting the trends. They are harnessing that energy and turning it into something tangible a real Asian MMA scene.
MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve become sort of “THE” Pakistani guy in MMA. What do you want to be your greatest impact from this?
Ahmad: As THE guy as you put it, I hope to serve as a good representative of the country. I hoped can set the standard for the other fighters to come. There will be other fighters who are much better than me to come in te future. That bar will will be raised as that standard crosses. But I hope that each fighter can try to create the positive vibes that I am tryin to put out for the country.
MMA-in-ASIA: No pressure?
Ahmad: No pressure. I know I work hard and I will give my best each fight. If I do that then winning and losing is simply a matter of fate in my opinion.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who will be in your corner for this fight?
Ahmad: My corner is to be Bill Easlick, a Division 1 wrestler. Former MMA champ in Ohio, US. Family of boxers and an awesome coach who is my First hands in MMA mentor in my MMA career.
MMA-in-ASIA: So does that mean you’re planning on playing a wrestling game?
Ahmad: I’m going to be playing an MMA game.
MMA-in-ASIA: What do you expect from your opponent?
Ahmad: I actually expect him to test me standing. He’s young he’s at a good camp and he’s probably improved his all around game a lot. But I know I have power and I know when he gets hit he will revert to his instincts and bread and butter. This is a good match up for both of our development as fighters.
MMA-in-ASIA: You showed a lot of heart in your first fight. Now that there’s distance between that and now, how do you look back upon that fight and think about it?
Ahmad: I appreciate everyone saying I showed heart. But I really think I just did what anyone would do if they actually come to this sport for the right reasons. If someone wants to get into MMA for glory, maybe a cut would deflate their will. But I think anyone who came to the sport to test themselves would have done the same as me. I appreciate the praise and it’s given me confidence that people have that impression of me because I hope it makes me even tougher for the next fight – because I now have a standard to uphold. All around coming back the fight was a great first fight. 3 rounds. Tested my cardio and gave me ring time. It was the perfect first fight for me and a great way to start my career.
MMA-in-ASIA: It sounds like that based on your introspection alone, you’ve probably already created a mental plan for your next fight. Is that the case?
Ahmad: Mentally preparing yourself is half the fight in my opinion. Training 90% physical 10% mental. Fighting is 10% physical 90% mental.
MMA-in-ASIA: Very interesting outlook. Does this analytical approach become your strength? Could you also be over analyzing? Do you “think too much” or is this just Bashir?
Ahmad: I get told I think too much all the time. So I guess it’s just me.
MMA-in-ASIA: How’s your diet going? I know you eat pretty healthy anyway.
Ahmad: Diet is good. I was eating super healthy back in the USA but I also had a lot more distractions. I bought two boxes of little Debbie fatty cakes to eat after my fight. I have a big sweet tooth and I indulge while eating healthy but when I get super strict with my diet and cut it all out I have serious cravings. Singapore was easy since I was alone in the mosque. This time it was quite frustrating but I made it
MMA-in-ASIA: What was it like, staying in the mosque?
Ahmad: Peaceful. I will try and do something similar for my next fight. The experience was so profound that I felt something was missing during this fight camp and I realise that I need that isolation. And I will try to incorporate it for every possible fight from now on.
MMA-in-ASIA: It sounds like when there are fight movies made, and they show the fighter entering the arena, and from the fighter’s point of view, everything is silent. Calm before the storm. Is it like that?
Ahmad: It was for me.
MMA-in-ASIA: There will be plenty of people looking forward to that storm on Friday, enjoy it. Do you have any sponsors you wish to note?
Ahmad: I want to thank Stone Age Jeans. They are my biggest sponsor right now. They are one of the biggest clothing brands in Pakistan. And please support our kickstarter project, PAKMMA Fighting Alliance – the website is at KickStarter.com here.