Ahmed Mujtaba Confident For Sage Northcutt Fight After Training With ‘Living Legends’ At American Kickboxing Academy
Ahmed Mujtaba is full of self-belief before the biggest fight of his life on Friday, May 5.
The Pakistani rising star will face Sage Northcutt in a lightweight MMA bout at ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video, and he’s been preparing for the organization’s historic U.S. debut at the world-renowned American Kickboxing Academy in California.
It is Mujtaba’s second time at AKA, so he was already acquainted with the San Jose gym’s coaching staff – including legendary MMA World Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Although the Islamic holy month of Ramadan means “Wolverine” hasn’t worked with Nurmagomedov this time, he was able to hit the ground running because of the knowledge he received in the past.
“This is my second camp at AKA. My first I was training with Khabib, Islam [Makhachev], and other Russian guys. But this time due to Ramadan, Khabib couldn’t make it.
“I’ve been fasting in this Ramadan month, and I’ve been training as well, but my first camp under Khabib was very good. I learned a lot about grappling from him. He told me where I have to work more. He’s been very kind, and he’s like a big brother.”
During this camp, Mujtaba has still been fortunate to work with other MMA royalty and high-level AKA coaches, including Javier Mendez and Bob Cook.
Plus, heavyweight icon Cain Velasquez is leading training sessions at the famed gym, and “Wolverine” is grateful to be learning from the retired American star.
“Cain is one of the living legends of the sport, and I’m very lucky to be training under him. He’s got very good experience. His expertise is [great]. He has shared good techniques regarding wrestling.”
Mujtaba: ‘To Be A Lion, You Have To Train With Lions’
Along with the top-class coaches at AKA, Ahmed Mujtaba has been sharing the mats with elite competitors who’ve helped him level up both physically and mentally.
Current #3-ranked lightweight MMA contender Saygid Izagakhmaev is among those athletes, and Mujtaba has forged a strong friendship with his fellow ONE Championship star.
He said of the Russian phenom:
“Saygid is like my brother. We met first at AKA when I was here for my first camp. We started things slowly, talking and training and everything. Then we met at ONE 163 [in November 2022). We fought on the same card and were boosting each other’s confidence and morale.”
Although Mujtaba has taken massive strides in terms of his skill set, he thinks his newfound swagger is the most important change.
Working with some of the greatest fighters and coaches in the world has helped the surging Pakistani competitor break the barriers in his mind that were holding him back.
Now, the 30-year-old will head to Colorado with the conviction that he can truly defeat a big name like Sage Northcutt and continue his rise in ONE.
“To be the best you have to train with the best. If you want to be a lion, you have to train with lions. These Russian guys are lions. I’m very confident with these guys because they understand me and I understand them as well. We are on the same path and we have to achieve our [goals].
“I feel like I was lacking behind in confidence before because I always wanted to train with the best, with Khabib, Islam, Cain, coach Javier, Coach Ron, and other guys from the United States. Now I’m very high on confidence.
“Some mistakes I’ve been making in my wrestling, in my striking, those mistakes are covered up. So I’m going to show it on May 5, Inshallah.”