Meet the UAE’s MMA hope

Emi­rati fighter Ah­mad Al Dar­maki on his hopes to be­come a global fight star

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Adrian Back @aidy­back

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.” adrian@7days.ae

HARD HIT­TING: UAE fighter Ah­mad Al Dar­maki in ac­tion last year at Abu Dhabi War­riors. He will fight again on May 24

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