Ahmad Wali Hotak called a press conference this week to announce he would be fighting in Russia. The bout appears to be set for June 25th but it isn’t clear who his opponent will be.
The 32 year old is clearly a big draw in Afghanistan where there was a lot of media interest in his announcement:
نن مې د رسنيو قدرمنو استازو سره د خپلې سيالۍ د څرنګوالي جزيات شريک کړل
هوډ لرم دې سيالۍ په ترسره کولو سره د سياليو لړۍ ته دوام ورکړم او که څه هم په لنډ وخت کې د دداسې پرله پسې سياليو ترسره کول په فزيکي لحاظ پر ما فشار راوړي خو د اوږده ځنډ او د هيوادوالو د هڅونې د جبران لپاره pic.twitter.com/lh0qBzJ9zQ
— Ahmad Wali Hotak (@AhmadWaliHotak1) June 13, 2022
Hotak is riding a three fight winning streak although his wins in Afghanistan have been shrouded in controversy with some websites refusing to recognize them. The suspicion is that international opponents have not fought to their full abilities.
He beat a Uzbek opponent on a seven fight winning streak in his last bout. Hotak currently boasts a record of 10-1 with his sole career loss coming in Russia.
His opponent for this bout appears to be Marat Uulu Sherzat who also hails from Kyrgyzstan and has an MMA record of 1-1. The poster describes it as a heavyweight fight and we hope for Hotak’s sake that is a typo:
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Uulu is listed as a bantamweight while Hotak tends to compete at 155lbs so if there is a size difference it will probably favour the Afghan fighter. There can’t be many mixed martial artists who have enough clout to call their own press conferences.
If you scroll though the photos of the press conference there is a man in traditional Afghan attire who has had his face blacked out. Presumably this was a Taliban representative who did not want to identify himself to the international community.
It is doubtful whether Hotak would be able to compete in Russia without the Taliban’s blessing. So while they might have banned MMA in Afghanistan fighters there can still travel beyond the country’s borders.
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 21, 2021
This will be the fourth time Hotak has fought in Russia and he has won three of those bouts. He would have competed in the country more times if his career hadn’t been derailed by an attempted kidnapping in 2018.
Hotak was stabbed during the attempt to kidnap him. He received support from some high profile government figures in the aftermath and was even granted an audience with Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the country’s president prior to the Taliban takeover.
There is no prospect of Hotak fighting in Afghanistan while the Taliban remains in power. They aren’t big on MMA, or women’s rights for that matter.
But the 32 year old is still able to compete on the international stage and will be hoping to score the 11th victory of his career in Moscow next week.