Pakistans first MMA competition on February 28th 2010 proved to be a great success and was received with a very positive response. Although this was a great milestone for Pakistani MMA it showed exactly how far MMA in Pakistan still needs to go. The setting was basic, the fights took place at Whites Sports Club in Model Town, Lahore and the fighting surface was nothing more than a layer of one centimeter mats on a patch of grass and a carpet laid over on top.
Before the fights the rules had to be carefully explained once again to the participants, some of whom did not even fully understand exactly what they were getting into. In Pakistan Mixed Martial Arts to many people means a competition where any striking style is allowed, the idea that you can strike a person from a grounded position is completely novel. For example one of the participants from outside of Lahore arrived the night before and was staying at Shaheen MMA Academy. There everyone was crowded around the screen and was watching some high lights from the Japanese Mixed Martial Arts promotion, Pride.
The participant stood there, jaw open, staring at the screen. “This is what your competing in tomorrow” someone said.
“This looks like a very dangerous game” they answered nervously. “Do people die?”
At this question everyone started laughing and reassured them that MMA was perfectly safe and no more dangerous than any other contact sport. The individual this story is referring to was a black belt in TKD and apparently considered himself one on the best fighters in his town. He went on to lose his match the minute it went to the ground.
Once the fighters were explained the rules, they were then told about their Amateur Fight Record Card. Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan will be tracking everyone who takes part in official competition and only their records will be valid. Everyone on the 28th fights was issued a card in which their height, age, weight and style was written. There was also a list of five fights with a check to mark if they won, lost or drew. After the fighters have had five fights they can have the opportunity to fight with full MMA rules and get paid for their fights, Mixed Martial Arts Pakistan will make sure that fighters get treated with dignity and respect and can begin to earn a living from competing in MMA.
The first fight was between Rahman Mehta, 13 years old against Anjum Nazir, 14. Nazir had had more formal training in Shaolin Kung Fu and was a green belt while Rahman had no ranking and had been training casually with Team Shaheen. That training proved priceless as he swarmed over Nazir took him to the ground and pounded him out for a 30 second TKO stoppage. This fight woke most of the crowd and competitors up. They were starting to really understand what this game was about and as the day went on the crowd started getting more and more into the fights, until it became the referees job to keep people away from the fighting area and stepping onto the mat itself.
The last fight was between Ashfaq Jutt of Shahbaz Red Dragon vs. Sultan Ali from Trim Fitness Fort. The two swung for the fences at the opening bell looking for the knockout and when they locked up in the clinch Ali went for a guillotine that Jutt was stuck in for a while. The next round the same happened but while scrambling on the ground Jutt landed in side control and cut off Ali’s breathing with a side choke forcing him to tap. The crowd went wild after this fight which was between a Lahori and an Islamabad fighter but the two sides were respectful and were friends after the match up. At the end of he day the event was a great success. No one was hurt, and everyone had a great time. This is the beginning of what will Insha Allah be a close knit and honorable MMA community in Pakistan.