Meet the UAE’s MMA hope
Emirati fighter Ahmad Al Darmaki on his hopes to become a global fight star
As the only Emirati competing professionally in mixed martial arts, Ahmad Al Darmaki has placed a great deal of responsibility on his young shoulders.
He hopes to inspire a new generation of UAE fighters and prove to those who feel the combat sport is too violent that it is actually an art-form that can take a lifetime to master.
On May 24 Al Darmaki will have a chance to showcase his skills at Abu Dhabi Warriors 4 as he attempts to gain a first win since turning professional. Victory would be a significant achievement for a fighter who came to the sport relatively late in life.
“I started out as a long distance runner and also a sprinter,” Al Darmaki told 7DAYS.
“I also used to be a UAE army officer so that is where I got all my stamina, strength and discipline. I served in Afghanistan and also had camps in the UK.
“I used to train in MMA just to keep fit but then my friend convinced me to give it a go and I began amateur boxing. I had a couple of fights and then turned to MMA.”
Al Darmaki enjoyed plenty of success as an amateur, he won both of his amateur boxing bouts and then three MMA fights before deciding to join the paid ranks.
In order to compete against the best in the world Al Darmaki trains three times a day, six times a week. These sessions see him work on all disciplines but it is in boxing, kickboxing and jiu jitsu that he specialises.
But life in the pro game has not been easy with Al Darmaki losing all three of his fights to date. So what motivates him to continue? “My friends told me, ‘Ahmad, you have lost three times already, why are you still fighting?’, but all of the fights were competitive and I always lost because of a technical decision,” explains Al Darmaki. “In the fight game anything can happen. I have added different techniques to my training, like now I train maybe twice a week in the desert. “It’s more difficult to move in the sand and heat, and humidity gives you a similar feel to when you are in the ring in the later rounds.” The 27-year-old’s determination to train ever harder comes after he was granted a re-match with Artiyom Gorodynets - the man who beat him at Abu Dhabi Warriors 3 last year. “I told the organisers I wanted this fight as last time I wanted to knock him out and I tired myself out and I had to submit,” he said. “This time I have a game plan. I will perform a more tactical fight and will tire him out and look for an opportunity.”
But no matter the outcome, Al Darmaki hopes that he can inspire more Emiratis to take up the fast-growing sport.
“I am proud to be an Emirati in a sport when not a lot of people are involved or take part,” said Al Darmaki. “It is my duty to represent my country with the best of my ability and I want to make all the Emiratis proud.
“I want to show them that MMA is more of a mixture of combat art form than just a violent sport. I hope more and more Emirati youngsters will train to become MMA fighters.
“After I am done with fighting I want to build my own MMA academy and train Emirati and Arab youths. Emiratis have won gold medals in Olympics, so it is not impossible that one day we will have a local fighter become a global star.” firstname.lastname@example.org
HARD HITTING: UAE fighter Ahmad Al Darmaki in action last year at Abu Dhabi Warriors. He will fight again on May 24