Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Faisal Malik aims to make history as the world's first British-Asian MMA world champion after he makes his debut on Cage Warriors — a promotion that has produced several former UFC legends, including Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping — on May 28 at Colchester’s Charter Hall.
"The Luton-born fighter predicts he will "run through" highly-rated Frenchman Johan Segas in similarly spectacular style to his previous opponents before going on to become Cage Warriors’ first British-Asian champ — and then doing the same again in UFC," he is quoted as saying by his management company.
Malik has an "unblemished professional MMA record", winning each of his five fights within one minute and five seconds.
"Becoming a world champion would be amazing, an incredible achievement, and a dream — particularly as I’d be the first man from a British-Asian background to do so. If nothing else it would prove to me that the belief I have in myself is well-placed.
“But I don’t want to look too far forward — I have to keep winning and making noise by winning. That’s what I have to do to become a history-making world champion," he said.
Speaking on his upcoming fight with Segas, Malik said he would finish the Frenchman "in the first one or two rounds". "People watching my Cage Warriors debut will see a very dominant performance and yet another win," he added.
“I’ve been watching Johan for a couple of years. From what I have seen, he’s a tough fighter who is game but has not got enough to cause me problems and I predict I will run through him.
“I will win by a stoppage – and whether it’s a TKO or a submission, I will finish him in the first one or two rounds. People watching my Cage Warriors debut will see a very dominant performance and yet another win.”
Malik's personal story and Pakistani roots
Malik trained in boxing until he was 15 and started to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 16 — which helped the 5ft 8ins youngster slim down from a massive 110kg in his early teens to his current fighting weight of 61kg — and stopped him getting into street fights.
He said: "My older brother and a couple of friends were like, 'Why are you wasting time on the road when you can channel that energy into a sport?'
"My brother found a place to train at MMA, so I went, tapped out millions of times and I was like, 'I need to learn this.' When I was about 22, I went pro. My whole life is dedicated to MMA because this is not a joke."
Aside from Khabib, Malik's grandfather was another role model for the youngster.
"He was wrestling back in Pakistan, in Kashmir," says Malik. "That's always been a motivation and I still believe that it's genetics. He was a champion so I always grew up hearing stories. He inspired me."
Like Khabib, Malik's faith – as well as his heritage – is central to his existence. "That's the first thing, sport comes after," he says. "Everything happens for a reason. I'm just grateful that I came off the road, I'm into the gym and I believe that that's a blessing from Allah."
Malik is also community-minded and has plans to open a gym in Luton and offer free sessions for underprivileged young people to get into MMA.
"MMA is fairly new and around where I'm from there's not really a gym," he says. "I've got seven coaches for different disciplines. I want to bring everything in house so those kids won't need to travel up and down the country."
Ahead of his Cage Warriors debut, Malik is aiming to show young people who look up to him that "anything is possible".
"I was overweight and from the streets and now I'm a professional fighter, 5-0 and on the verge of firing into the UFC, Insha'Allah," he says.
"I want to help the kids suffering with mental health, even adults. I believe physical fitness is the number one medicine.
"My goal from the gym is pretty much to create high-level fighters, I'm talking UFC world champion. I want to show that if I can do it, they can do it too, and I want to help as much as I can along the way."
Ambition to promote MMA in Pakistan
Malik aims to use the Cage Warriors platform to ultimately take the sport back to Pakistan and headline a UFC fight in Lahore, along with growing the scope for MMA in South Asia.
He claims he already has the back of the Pakistani government in this regard as he was invited to meet Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Moazzam Ahmad Khan.
"That's where my roots are. So just to go back there... imagine how crazy that would be. By promoting MMA in Pakistan, it will promote the whole MMA scene and guys will start coming through," he is quoted as saying
Pakistan and South Asia have such potential for this sport to grow and I want to be at the forefront of that."