Photo via sherdog.com
It's been a long road to the UFC for Siyar Bahadurzada. After signing a four fight deal with Strikeforce that failed to produce a single fight, the young Afghan finally announced signing a UFC contract in September, 2011. He was scheduled to fight earlier this year, but had to withdraw due to a hand injury. I recently secured a quick interview with Siyar, where he discussed his upcoming April 14 bout with Paulo Thiago on UFC On Fuel TV 2, and why he left Golden Glory.
Stephie Daniels: Would you consider Paulo Thiago the biggest fight of your career thus far?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Yeah, I do. Paulo Thiago is, until now, the toughest, most skilled opponent that I've faced, because of the fact that if you're in the UFC, you're one of the best. I think the UFC has top notch fighters, but I'm also coming from some great fights at welterweight. Forget about my other fights. Just like at the ones at welterweight, especially my last three fights. They were all won by knockout. At welterweight, I feel really strong. I'm an improved fighter also. I'm looking forward to Thiago, and it will be a hell of a fight.
Stephie Daniels: Do you see this being a stand-up fight for the most part?
Siyar Bahadurzada: I hope Thiago stands with me, because that's my plan. Everybody knows I'll stand with him. I'll stand with anybody. If he stands with me, it will be fight of the night.
Stephie Daniels: Are fight of the night honors more important to you then knockout or submission of the night?
Siyar Bahadurzada: When I get in there, I always want to finish fights as soon as possible. Sometimes, things turn out differently. I never look for knockouts. Knockouts should come naturally. If you look for them, they'll never come. I just go out and fight, and while I'm fighting, sometimes I connect and finish them off. When I fight, I fight to kill, every time.
Stephie Daniels: Why did you leave Golden Glory?
Siyar Bahadurzada: I had some trust issues, and that's all I can really say about Golden Glory. I had trust issues, and that's why I decided to leave.
Stephie Daniels: Did you ever get paid for winning the United Glory tournament?
Siyar Bahadurzada: I just got paid three days ago.
Stephie Daniels: Were you paid in full?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Yes, I was.
Stephie Daniels: You had a very close relationship with Martin De Jong. Do you still maintain any kind of contact with him?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Well, we had problems, me and him. It came down to the point where I had to train somewhere else. I did that, and I'm training with a legendary striking coach, Lucien Carbin. I still have my friends, and I still train with them. I am prepared and well conditioned right now. I'm ready.
Stephie Daniels: You mentioned at the start of the interview that you were a little grumpy because you're cutting weight. How far out do you start your cut?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Well, I cut weight in a very strange way. I don't want to feel weak when I'm cutting weight, so I don't really follow a strict diet. I do eat specific food, and I do have a cheat day, once a week.
When I find out that I have a fight, I start watching my food, because I don't want to have to be on a strict diet, because it costs a lot of power. For the two or three months that I'm in training for a fight, I watch my food. Slowly and gradually, I get down in weight. I don't feel that I lose any power or strength that way. I do it in a very natural way that I'm used to. All these years I've done it the same way, and it works.
Stephie Daniels: What's your go to cheat food?
Siyar Bahadurzada: It's a secret. It makes me big and strong. If I tell you, then you'll want to be in there fighting too [laughs].
Stephie Daniels: After weigh-ins, what's your last big meal?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Well, there is no such thing as a last supper, or last meal. I eat like seven times between the weigh-ins and the fight. Carbs, everything. My body is used to it. Afghan food is all carbs, and I don't eat any other food. My body accepts it and works really well with it, and that's why I'll keep doing it.
Stephie Daniels: Do you think octagon jitters will be a factor for you?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Personally, I think when I'm in the cage, and the door locks, I will be stronger. In the ring, between the ropes, he might escape, but in a cage, he will not escape, so he will be mine.
Stephie Daniels: After the Strikeforce contract failed to provide a fight, you finally got picked up by the UFC and were scheduled to fight earlier this year, but had an injury to your hand. Talk about that, and is your hand completely healed?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Well, it was bad. I felt like there was a big gift under the Christmas tree, and when you open it up, it's empty. Let me make it worse. You open it up and there's poop inside. That's how I felt about my UFC debut, because I was really excited. I waited for a long time, finally I got my chance, and a few weeks before the fight, I broke my hand.
It was really terrible, but despite my hand being in a cast, I kept training. I trained my knees, my kicks, and I jogged, so my conditioning wasn't affected in any way. The only thing that was affected was that I couldn't fight. That's the worst thing. Right now, I'm even more motivated than I was for the first fight.
My hand is 100%. I can hit hard. It's my treasure. I feel strong and confident, and I'm ready to go.
Stephie Daniels: I know you trained with Mayhem Miller for a couple months at Reign Training Center. Do you have any plans to come back to the states to train with some of the other camps out here?
Siyar Bahadurzada: Of course. After my fight, I'll come to see Jason Miller fight, and after that, I will train for some time, then come back to Europe. To be honest, the training at Reign is great over there. I mean, I might visit the Blackzilians and I would like to go to Greg Jackson's gym, to have a look and see how they train over there.
Stephie Daniels: Are there any weaknesses with Thiago that you feel you can capitalize on?
Siyar Bahadurzada: I hope there's a big weakness between his ears [laughs]. To tell the truth, I respect Thiago a lot. He's a tough fighter. He's from the B.O.P.E. for God's sake. He's mentally tough, and I'm mentally tough. He's a perfect way for me to test my will and my mentality. I'll find out myself, if I'm as strong as I thought I was, or if it was just some kind of illusion. I think if I can break Thiago, I can break everybody in the UFC.
If you don't think you can beat people, or you're not mentally strong enough, then fighting doesn't make sense. When I fight, I don't fight for money. I fight for my country, and I fight for honor. Every time I fight, I put everything on the line. It's not just a sport for me. It's more than that, and I give everything.
Follow Siyar via his Twitter @SiyarTheKiller