Ahmed “The Wolverine” Mujtaba has clawed his way into ONE Championship, and now that he is there, he plans to keep his undefeated streak in tact.
Ahmed is ready to win the fight standing or on the ground, and believes Ang will find himself in trouble no matter where the fight goes.
“He has not faced a guy who he is not able to takedown and someone who is the better grappler,” the 23-year-old says. “Do not discount my striking either.”
Nicknamed “The Wolverine” due to his resemblance to the Marvel movie character, Ahmed has spent years honing in his craft, a craft that almost did not happen. Admittedly, he never thought about becoming a mixed martial artist. But sometimes, a chance encounter can change the course of someone’s life forever.
In 2010, Ahmed began training MMA at the suggestion of a friend. It didn’t take long for him to find himself knee-deep in the blossoming world that was Pakistan’s MMA scene, falling in love with the sport and training at Fight Fortress MMA.
Though he loved the training, Ahmed also found MMA to be somewhat of a necessity.
“I grew up as the son of a teacher,” he says. “I was an average kid. Not too wealthy, but not too poor. I always had a lot of extra energy in myself and was skinny. I lived in Islamabad, then moved into Quetta, which was a rough place and I had to toughen myself up.”
The featherweight proved a quick study, immediately making a statement when he laced up his gloves for an actual fight. He choked out Nadeem Sharif in his professional MMA debut at Pak Fight Club in April 2013, and followed that up with a first-round stoppage of Ahmed Abbas just eight months later in December.
Along the way, he also won one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals in the Pakistan Grappling Championship.
Ahmed rode those early cage victories all the way to a title shot this past January, where he found himself face-to-face with Rodian Menchavez for the vacant UGB MMA featherweight strap.
Like his other opponents, Menchavez wound up on the wrong end of a finish, as the Fight Fortress pugilist stopped the fight in just 1:56 of the opening stanza. He would defend the belt against Neil Larano in July, where he tapped him out via triangle choke.
With a belt around his waist, Ahmed suddenly found himself at the center of a young sport with a lot of attention.
“It is growing very, very fast,” he says, before giving a nod to a fellow ONE combatant and PAK MMA pioneer. “Bashir Ahmad came with a vision. He succeeded and he represented us. We all followed his footsteps.”
The UGB MMA title win, combined with Ahmad’s achievements, were the catalyst for “The Wolverine” to pursue fighting as a full-time occupation.
“When I started fighting for UGB MMA, my first purse was $650,” he offers. “That would last me two full months and I was very happy. Also, seeing Bashir Ahmad’s success motivated me.”
Looking at Ahmed today, it is hard to see the young man who once took up MMA as a means to toughen up. He credits a strong faith in God for his lack of fear during fights.
On the verge of becoming Pakistan’s next MMA sensation, Ahmed brings his skills to ONE Championship on 11 November, where he meets fellow unbeaten combatant Benedict Ang. “The Wolverine” brings five consecutive finishes into the bout and may be looking to catch Ang in a triangle choke, his favorite submission.
While Ahmed is not looking past Ang, he has no doubt he will walk out of the cage with his hand raised. When asked to break down the fight, he offers a point by point breakdown of his advantages over Ang.
“He is good,” Mujtaba says of his opponent. “I am confident I will be victorious. I am the stronger man, the faster man, I have the better cardio, and I have heart.
“[I’m] not doubting him or anything, but I will win this with the backing of God.”
With the days until the fight falling off the calendar, Mujtaba is laser-focused on both his training and his opponent. While he is ready to take the fight as it comes, he has played it out in his mind from bell-to-bell.
“There’s this famous saying in the Quran,” he begins. “Never turn your back when in battle for your nation or comrades.
“I am not going to turn back and I will use this to motivate myself to put on a blistering performance for the crowd.
“They can expect me to land bombs, take him down, and make him submit.”