MMA is a sport that goes hand in hand with adversity. Fighters are used to dealing with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as injuries are part and parcel of the game.

Afghanistan’s Ahmad Wali Hotak is a fighter who has endured more than most. He has been out of action for two years after being brutally attacked.

Kabul has a reputation as being a dangerous place which, judging from Hotak’s experience, seems to be well deserved. He was attacked ‘with knives and guns’ in an attempted kidnapping,

“Three years ago, when I was in USA, I came back to Afghanistan before catching a flight to Russia for my fight at Fight Night Global. Some unknown people attacked me near to my house and wanted to kidnap me, so I was injured in my belly and I was out for one and a half years from training,” he said.

Ahmed Hotak punches Vladislav Stepanov 2

Comeback time

Hotak will return to the cage at Truly Grand Fighting Championship 11 in Kabul this Thursday. It is a measure of the lightweight’s local standing that seasoned Brazilian Leonardo Barbosa is being flown in to fight him.

He holds a record of 7-1 but Hotak has never competed in his native Afghanistan before. His previous fights have taken place in Russia and India and he is excited to be fighting in Kabul for the first time,

“I got my training hard a few months ago and TGFC international company offered me to fight in Kabul the capital of Afghanistan to show the fight to Afghanistan fans. I’m very happy to compete in my country and want to show my fight to my fans here in Kabul, Afghanistan,” he told

Ahmed Hotak rear naked chokes Vladislav Stepanov

Powerful people

His opponent trains at the famed Pitbull Brothers gym in Brazil and comes into the bout on the back of a two-fight winning streak and Hotak acknowledges it is ‘a big challenge’,

“Yeah, a test with Leonardo is a very big challenge to me from TGFC promotion and I’m very happy to have a fight with strong fighters,” said Hotak.

Some of the most powerful people in the country will be in attendance and Hotak is desperate to impress them,

“I have big stress to have this fight because my fans and our country leaders even the president and vice president will attend to my fight, I don’t want to lose this fight.”

Ahmed Hotak punches Vladislav Stepanov

Young generation

MMA seems to be enjoying a golden era in the Middle East and Hotak believes that his home country can produce talented fighters,

“MMA is a very popular sport in my country and the young generation are joining MMA camps to train, it’s the fastest-growing sport in Afghanistan history and TGFC is the fastest-growing promotion in Afghanistan. The promotion helps so many young generations to achieve their goals because of its founder and CEO Abdul Wasi Sharifi,” he said.

With the UFC now frequently doing shows in Abu Dhabi, Hotak is hoping to get himself on the matchmaker’s radar,

“My biggest goal is in 2021 to have a chance to represent my country on the world stage. I want to be the first fighter from this war torn country to get in the UFC.”