‘Training Like I’ve Never Trained Before’ – Osamah Almarwai Determined To Win Middle East Homecoming At ONE 166
Set to go down at Lusail Sports Arena on March 1, that blockbuster event will mark the organization’s historic debut in Qatar, as well as Almarwai’s highly anticipated return to the region as a competitor.
The first IBJJF Black Belt World Champion of Middle Eastern descent, “Osa” has spent the past several years training and competing exclusively in the United States – including his ONE debut last May at the organization’s first-ever show on U.S. soil in Colorado.
Even though Almarwai lost that contest to pound-for-pound great and current ONE Flyweight Submission Grappling World Champion Mikey Musumeci, Middle Eastern fans are buzzing about his sophomore appearance next month.
The 31-year-old submission ace told onefc.com:
“This is an exciting opportunity for me because, once again, I’ll make history with ONE Championship. The first time we made history competing in the first event in the U.S., and now, we’re making history again, competing in my region.
“I’m super excited to be competing in the Middle East for the first time since I became a black belt and since I won [IBJJF] Worlds, you know, to be competing, and to showcase my skills amongst the Middle Eastern fans.”
Almarwai is the premier Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor from the region, and his matchup with Sousa represents yet another opportunity to put Middle Eastern submission grappling on the map.
The Andre Galvao black belt is humble and modest to his core, so he sometimes struggles to see himself as the trailblazer that he is.
He spoke about being an inspiration to the next generation:
“Yeah, it is really weird. Because I just see myself just as jiu-jitsu a competitor. I didn’t know I had that influence. But when you get messages from people, I try to do my best to represent them, and I always motivate the people and the young up-and-comers from the Middle East.”
While he currently trains at the famed Atos Academy in San Diego, California, Almarwai developed the foundations of his world-class grappling while living in the Middle East – a task that required plenty of dedication and extra hours in the training room.
He says that his accomplishments should serve as motivation for other grapplers from the region, proving that success at the elite level is possible for them:
“I always say if I could make it, you guys can make it. Especially now that you have a better foundation of jiu-jitsu. So before we had good jiu-jitsu, it was smaller gyms, you know, like a few guys do a few rounds.
“So I had to do extra drilling, the extra rounds after class, and so on. But now they have the good foundation. They have the support.”
Almarwai Says ONE 166 Is ‘A Huge Opportunity’
Given his celebrated homecoming to the region, Osamah Almarwai is working harder than ever to ensure he beats Cleber Sousa at ONE 166.
He admits to feeling the pressure of high expectations, well aware that fans from around the Middle East will be traveling to Qatar to watch him perform.
But rather than buckle under that pressure, he’s using it to fuel his determination:
“In my head, there’s no way I’m going to lose in the Middle East. I mean, God willing, God knows what’s gonna happen. But in my head, I’m doing everything I can to win.
“I really, really want to win over there, especially now that I’m the I’m one of the biggest names in jiu-jitsu in the Middle East, and it’s the first event for ONE Championship. It’s a huge opportunity for me. It is going to be televised on so many big networks.”
To that end, “Osa” has intensified his already demanding training schedule.
Under the careful guidance of his head coach, Andre Galvao, he has packed in additional sessions in wrestling, as well as extra strength and conditioning on top of his daily BJJ practice.
In short, Almarwai is doing everything he possibly can to showcase his very best on March 1.
“What I can control is training super hard, you know, the diet, the sleep, and recovery and everything. I’m training like I’ve never trained before.
“I’m training, like, four-plus times a day – approximately 30 hours, 20-plus sessions a week. So a lot of training, and whenever I’m tired, that’s when I’m like, ‘Man, I’m not gonna lose, I gotta keep pushing.’”