Born of a Moroccan mother, mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Abdullah Al-Qahtani “The Ripper” discussed his passion for this sport, as well as his Moroccan roots and the increasing popularity of Moroccan athletes.
In an exclusive interview with MoroccoLatestNews, Al-Qahtani recalled developing a love for combat sports like MMA, boxing, and Muay Thai from a very young age.
“My family, including my mom and cousins, enjoys watching these sports together. The place where I grew up (Morocco) has a strong combat sports culture, and we greatly admire Muay Thai and MMA Champions,” he explained.
Born in Morocco 25 years ago, and currently residing in Saudi Arabia with my family, “I still consider myself Moroccan” said Al-Qahtani.
After his recent fight, he spent a few days in Morocco connecting with his family and roots, and got a chance to witness the festivities of the Gnaoua Festival.
In 2015 in Saudi Arabia, he had the chance to meet a Champion from Desert Force.
This encounter was pivotal as it inspired him to explore the potential of this sport.
“Subsequently, when there was a tryout, I decided to participate even though I had no background in the required skills. I found a good gym and coach, and my training journey began in 2015,” unveiled Al-Qahtani.
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) holds great importance to the athlete.
As the second-largest Mixed Martial Arts promotion globally, it hosts large-scale events with a wide global broadcast distribution.
The Moroccan MMA player will be competing at Madison Square Garden, an opportunity he hopes will showcase his skills on such a global stage.
“Although it’s short notice, I’m prepared for the challenge and eager to make an impression. I want the world to recognize me for something extraordinary,” he further explained.
When asked in our interview if he feels that Moroccan athletes are receiving proper recognition, Abdullah said that in Morocco, the popularity of combat sports is substantial, comparable to soccer and perhaps is the second-most popular sport. However, the combat sports culture is strong.
Internationally, Moroccan fighters are known for their toughness.
“Our reputation is built on courage and strong determination. But speaking strictly about MMA, the number of Moroccan fighters is limited, but in disciplines like Muay Thai or kickboxing, Moroccans are renowned for their exceptional skills,” he highlighted
Determined, Abdullah said that his “goal is not just to be a champion but to become the best in the world.”
On how his Moroccan mother influenced his carrier choices, the athlete said that, unlike Saudi Arabia, Morocco has a significant combat sports following.
“From a young age, she (his mom) believed I could become a World Champion in one of these sports. She encouraged me to watch fight sports on TV, cultivating my passion for them. Her support and encouragement have played a crucial role in growing my passion for combat sports,” stated Al-Qahtani.
Sharing his thoughts on his upcoming fight on August 23, his opponent is David Zelner from America, known for his aggressive style, he told us.
“This appeals to me because I enjoy challenging myself against aggressive opponents. I thrive in this style of competition because I feel more motivated. While winning is important, I also want to entertain my fans. To do so, I must prepare well, study my opponent’s weaknesses, so that I can attack and secure another crazy finish like I did in my debut in PFL, against Lamar Brown,” explained Abdullah.
In the last fight he mentioned, Abdullah won impressively via first-round submission in 1 minute and 35 seconds.
Al-Qahtani is driven by the following quote “Nothing comes easy.”
“Hard work is important, and I need to outwork others. God sees my efforts, He will provide me with success if I work hard. If others are working harder, they deserve their success. Therefore, I constantly push myself to work harder,” emphasized the Moroccan talent.
Before every significant fight, to prepare mentally, Al-Qahtani always talks to his mom and coach.
While physical training is important, their encouragement plays a significant role for him mentally.
“My mom supports me throughout my training, and her presence provides reassurance. They always remind me to give my best in the cage and not let distractions hinder my performance. They say to focus on doing my best and trust that the results will reflect my efforts”, concluded the Moroccan MMA fighter.