Irfan Khan was one of the last minute additions to Brave 5. The veteran took up a fight against Mohammed Farhad on short notice and that too, above his regular weight class.
Things, however, did not go well for the Mumbai-based fighter at least on paper. He suffered a knockout loss at the event, but he holds no regret.
Irfan Khan: Firstly winning and losing is not my thing. I fight for a higher purpose which these young fighters will find hard to understand. A good performance and respect matters to me. Win or lose, it is all part of the game.
Yes, this fight was taken on a short notice and to a weight category higher. However, i will take this as a lesson. Next time I’ll be smarter in taking decisions. And Mohd. Farhad is a good fighter and we respect each other. That fight, It was his day.
It was a great experience to be a part of a historic event. The best of Indian fighters were on the card. Though a couple of things I did wrong, I don't regret it as it was my decision after all.
Bouncing back from such a defeat is important. Irfan feels that he need full preparations before he steps into the cage again and has landed a scholarship in Thailand to take his game to the next level.
Irfan Khan: Now I'm not eager to get back that soon. I need full preparation before entering the cage next time. And obviously, fight in my weight category (flyweight) 57kgs and not take any last moment fight. I have a scholarship training planned in Thailand for at least six months before my next fight.
With two decades of experience to showcase on his resume, Irfan has been an inspiration to many upcoming fighters, including Farhad. When he finally hangs up his gloves, he plans to take up coaching on a full time basis.
Irfan Khan: I believe I have a few fights left in me, some best ones. As I'm aging to be best of the performing fighter here after an experience of two decades. Previously I was the only one from Mumbai to participate in professional MMA.
In fact Farhad and other young guys used to come and cheer for my fights. It’s an honour to be an inspiration to the young fighters for taking up this sport professionally. So yes I'm going to continue doing that in future as a coach after I'm done fighting.
Along with his brother, Irfan has already set up an academy where he trains the upcoming fighters.
Irfan Khan: This was one of the initiatives I started with my brother Danish Shetty. #FightElite is a place where we have lots of young talent. Few already displayed their talent in amateur MMA championships around the country. It plays an important role to be a veteran in the sport.
Sharing your knowledge and experience is a great way of expanding it. The kids benefits from it so do you in honour and pride of their achievements.
But the fighting career of Irfan is far from over. He still has a long road ahead of him and he is open for a rematch with Farhad in the future.
Irfan Khan: Expect my return to the cage pretty soon. But I assure that it's going to be the best of inferno so far. As I have an open contract and can fight anywhere unlike other fighters, whichever promotion offers me a good deal and a fair fight with enough time to prepare, I’ll go for it. In talks with Brave for another fight soon.
I don't call out to other fighters. Believe me when you are on top, other fighters call out to you. And being on top doesn't mean by a number of wins you have, it’s about being wise. In this case, I would love to have a rematch with Farhad and show the world what I'm actually made of.
Coming back to his fight at Brave 5, it made Irfan the only fighter to fight both in the Super Fight League (SFL) and Brave Combat Federation in 2017. And according to Irfan, there were some major differences.
Irfan Khan: I have fought for more than two promotions this year and has been a great experience so far. The difference between these two are, Brave is a much professional and a non-biased organization and cares for the fighter more than their promotion. For details, I guess you need to take another interview because I have a lot to tell and let's keep this one for its purpose.
While such an interview is bound to kick start debates in the Indian MMA circles, for the time being, Irfan had another message for the fans and the fighters out there.
Irfan Khan: As everyone knows MMA is the fastest growing sports in the world. We cannot control the fire. The craze is going to spread for this ultimate sport. So you either be a part of it or against it.
To improve the situation furthers we need to work as one and not have a rivalry against each other. Some of us (veteran fighters) are taking another initiative to form a fighters union (Same as the one in UFC) as a non-profit organization so that the fighter benefits from it and does not suffer or get affected from the dirty politics going into the sport and administration.
Get the latest in the world of Sports, Teams, and Players! Free Delivery to your Inbox.