Training mixed martial artists is a mighty task for the uninitiated. But Bahadurzada is no stranger to first-time challenges.
The Kabul native rose to fame as Afghanistan’s first-ever sports World Champion after winning the Shooto Middleweight Championship. He then went on to compete in leading mixed martial arts promotions across the globe in a career that spanned over 20 years.
Bahadurzada believes his experience, especially from back home, has prepared him well for his new role as a coach.
“I have always tried to inspire a lot of people and help them stay away from drugs and criminal stuff in Afghanistan, and inspire them to do more mixed martial arts,” he said.
“To a certain point, I succeeded in that and created a big culture of mixed martial arts in Afghanistan. Nowadays, thousands of athletes are making their life out of this sport. That’s something that really means a lot to me.
“When I came to Evolve, as I started coaching, I felt the same satisfaction with helping the students get better, helping them to achieve their dreams, and inspiring their nations through them.”
One needs to look no further than Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat as an example. She has sacrificed everything to go 2-0 under the watchful eyes of Bahadurzada, and in doing so, she has inspired many in her home country of India.
“These athletes put in the hard work. They train day and night, they stay away from their families, they stay away from their countries, they eat things they don’t like, and they drink things they don’t like,” he said.
“This is something I did myself, and now I see these guys doing it. They’re motivated and they’re inspired to achieve their dreams. It’s a great look, and it’s very inspiring to be around these athletes.”
Throughout his illustrious mixed martial arts career, the Evolve coach has rubbed shoulders with the very best in the business, including Greg Jackson, Henri Hooft, and Martijn De Jong.
Bahadurzada is confident that those experiences have given him better insight into how he chooses to develop his athletes.
“Throughout the two decades of my experience in mixed martial arts, I created this knowledge – the things that worked, how to make athletes better, and how to get them to understand the fight game,” he explained.
“I’m not just trying to get them in great physical shape. I try to also get them in a good state of mind and try to keep them positive. I try to give them a mindset that fighting has a lot to do with physical [ability], but when it comes to competing and performing, it’s also mostly mental.”
Nothing drives Bahadurzada’s passion more than being close to the sport he loves dearly, and now, he plans to take the Evolve Fight Team to new heights.
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