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Gilgit native Haider Farman is passionate about contact sports. He began by learning taekwondo for two years and MMA for the next five, has participated in three international competitions and won two. At his most recent fight in November, Mr Farman beat Indian fighter Mohammad Atif.

Dawn sat down with Mr Farman, who at 5 feet 2 inches is known in the MMA world as ‘The Giant’ for fighting taller and bigger competitors, to talk about his work.

Q: What did it take for you to win your last fight?

A: I trained a month and a half for this fight in Bahrain. I was calm and composed in the cage in all three rounds, but at the same time I was on the offensive throughout. I took my opponent down in the first and the second round.

At the same time I was striking him too. I attempted certain holds while he was down to force him to submit. Mohammad Atif is known for throwing the fastest punches in the club where he trains but they were not fast enough. I had the upper hand in all three rounds and won by points.

Q: You lost one international fight out of the three; what went wrong?

A: One of the fighters had backed off for some reason and I was asked if I could fill in. Usually fighters have four to six weeks to prepare, but I had agreed to fight four days before the competition. It was a big break for me.

My Thai opponent had come down from 60 kilograms to 57 kg and I weighed 53 kg. Nonetheless I felt was ready. The fight took place some hours after I landed. I knocked him down in the second round but he recovered. He won by winning more points. But I won the award for the Fight of the Night. After that fight I was also called ‘The Giant’ for taking on a bigger opponent.

Q: What are some of the risks in MMA fighting, and why do you like it over other forms of contact sports?

A: There are no particular risks. We train in the cage aggressively hitting and taking beatings. We get beaten so many times and so hard, until the pain feels sweet. MMA is better than other contact sports because there are no restrictions and fewer rules compared to taekwondo or judo.

In MMA, the only rule is not to hit the opponent in the groin and behind the head; other than that a fighter can snap elbows, break a knee or a wrist and dislocate a shoulder by gripping the competitor in different kinds of holds, such as a toe hold, knee bar, shoulder lock etc. The most I have been hurt was a cut to my left eyebrow in my last fight that bled a little.

Q: What are you training for next?

A: I have challenged the opponent who beat me in 2016. I have told him I am ready for him. MMA is now my job. I plan to win in the Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC). It is every fighters dream to win a UFC fight.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017