Brave 5 is remembered for a lot of things. The most talked about part of the fight night was hands down the showdown between Abdul Muneer and Gurdarshan Mangat. The rivalry was arguably the greatest on in Indian MMA history till date and both Mangat and Muneer showcased great heart throughout the whole saga.
Now that the smoke is settled down, it is time to move forward and explore new roads. Muneer has been doing just that. He took the best from his fight with Mangat and shifted his focus to helping the younger breed of fighters after Brave 5.
We managed to catch up with him for an exclusive interview where he talked about his iconic rivalry with Mangat, the possibility of Mohammed Farhad vs. Gurdarshan Mangat, the rise of Indian MMA and much more. You can read the interview below.
The Fan Garage: You have been working with a lot of youngsters since Brave 5. How important is it for veterans like you to impart knowledge to such upcoming fighters?
Abdul Muneer: Right knowledge is key for progress. Interacting and helping youngsters gives me a sense of self satisfaction and achievement. India has tremendous potential in multiple combat sports. By working with youngsters I am also finding renewed motivation to keep my struggle going and to transform the sports industry in India from within with the help of athletes.
TFG: Mangat and you made history at Brave 5. From the fights you had in the past, how was this one different?
AM: There was much on stake. The fire and aggression between us was equally strong. We both wanted this fight since this fight would change the face of Indian MMA forever and it did. I walked into the cage with a sheer dedication for this sport and respect for my opponent. I fought the fight like my any other fight with all my heart and soul. It was a learning experience at the end of it for both of us. We both took the best from this fight.
TFG: When can we expect to see you back in the cage? What are your commitments till then?
AM: Very soon. I am a fighter and this is what I live for. My commitments are towards the sport. I live and breathe the sport and for a fact, I have fights left in me and will leave a legacy behind.
TFG: You are very successful when it comes to landing sponsors. As sponsorships are very important to the fighter, what advice would you give the Indian fighters out there about securing sponsorships?
AM: Sponsors have an important role to play in every sport. Being loyal to the sponsors and giving them the value in return for their support is important. I have witnessed many athletes in fitness industry accepting services from sponsors and failing to reflect their worth to them. This is one reason why most sponsors leave after a short span. Now, most sponsors prefer MMA and combat sports because they have more media value than fitness or bodybuilding which is also haunted by negative and unhealthy aspects of steroids, drugs, and politics.
Indian athletes need to focus on strengthening media relations and give the audience a reason to cheer for. The athlete has an obligation to represent the sport and his audience. If that fails media will avoid such self-centred characters, so will sponsor.
TFG: Your match with Masio Fullen had a controversial stoppage. Now that both of you are coming off a loss, do you think Brave should make Muneer vs. Fullen 2? And how do you think such a fight would end up?
AM: Referee made the decision. It is up to the matchmakers to decide further. I do not choose my opponents; I am a fighter and will fight any athlete put in front of me.
TFG: A potential fight between Gurdarshan Mangat and Mohammed Farhad is being discussed. What are your thoughts on this? What is your prediction for such a fight?
AM: Both are fighters with immense potential. Farhad is improving each day and getting stronger physically and in terms with technique. If they fight, it will be another chapter in the history of Asian MMA.
TFG: What do you think the fighters, fans and Indian MMA media need to do in order to take Indian MMA to the next stage?
AM: Their support was immense. This support is driving massive change in the sport. Focused projects to develop the sport in the ground level are necessary to make the sport popular. Along with this effective knowledge transfer and bring the athletes together will propel the sport. The support from media that we received was crucial and helped a lot.
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