Bahadurzada never forgot his roots, though, and to this day, while wins and titles are nice, it’s not the be-all end-all behind what he’s doing every time he puts the gloves on.
“I’m not in this game for money,” he said. “I fight for a bigger cause. It’s bigger than myself. I fight to inspire Afghanistan. I fight to inspire kids, I fight to inspire women, and I fight to inspire people without hope. I’m fighting for those people to put a smile on their faces and see that there’s something positive in the media about us. I’m fighting for those kids that have nothing to look forward to, and when they see me, it gives them hope. They say if Siyar can make it from the streets of Afghanistan to the top of the world, we can make it to the top of the world. I fight for those kids, and those kids are my motivation, and they’re the source that keeps me going.
“People who are rich, they give money to charity. I give my energy, I give my body, I give my soul, I give my everything to keep those people motivated and show them to fight for whatever they believe in because there’s always another day and always a morning after a dark night.”
That’s a lot of responsibility, but Bahadurzada embraces it, because he knows he doesn’t have to put on one face for the media and another behind closed doors. This is who he is, and if you want any more proof, look inside the Octagon on fight night.
“You can lie about anything, but you cannot lie once you’re inside the cage,” Bahadurzada said. “Fighting reveals your character, it reveals who you really are deep inside your core. You show who you really are as a man when you fight – the way you fight, how you fight, how you deal with obstacles during the fight. You cannot hide from those things.”
Bahadurzada never hides. He doesn’t run. And he believes that at 35, the best is yet to come.
“Age is just a number,” Bahadurzada said. “It’s how you feel inside. The fire that you have inside of you, that determines your age. As long as that fire burns, age doesn’t matter. It’s all a matter of will and there’s always a day when you come to shine. Every dog has its day, and I honestly believe that my day is coming. I don’t care when it’s coming, I just believe it’s coming. And when my day comes, I will reign.”
UFC Copenhagen airs at a special time. The main card starts on ESPN+ at 2pm/11am ETPT and the prelims begin at 11am/8am ETPT.