Irfan “The Gorilla” Ahmad, 23, was one of the winners in the sixth season of “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series.” This made him the second Pakistani to win at the ONE Championship subsidiary.
Featuring 16 mixed martial arts matches, “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series 6” took place in Singapore on June 20, 2019. In the ninth bout of the evening, Ahmad faced Sandeep Gurung, 26, of Nepal.
Ahmad and Gurung competed in the strawweight division. The Pakistani contender won by armbar submission in the first round.
Gurung is training out of All Martial Arts Academy in Nepal. He is a Nepali kickboxing champion.
On the other hand, Ahmad has worked from humble beginnings training at a charity gym called Shaheen Mix Martial Arts Academy in Lahore, Pakistan. The gym was founded by Bashir “Somchai” Ahmad, 36, a former ONE Championship athlete who is dubbed the Godfather of Pakistani MMA.
According to Bashir, he created Shaheen Mix Martial Arts Academy as a non-profit facility “to create good citizens of Pakistan.” The facility provides free martial arts training, after school tuition and scholarships for promising students to schools they would not otherwise have access to.
At Shaheen Mix Martial Arts Academy, Shaheen trains alongside a team of youth and is seen by them as a mentor and a role model. He is considered to be the captain of Team Shaheen as the kids of the team aged 12 to 16 wish to follow in his footsteps.
Before being called up to compete at ONE Warrior Series, Irfan won on the national level. He would travel back and forth from his home in a small town in Punjab, India to Lahore in order to train with Bashir, who at the time was competing in ONE Championship.
Having competed in ONE Championship from 2013 to 2016, Bashir was the first professional MMA fighter to represent Pakistan on a global stage. Under his guidance, Irfan went undefeated in national competition, winning all his matches at PAKMMA Fighting Alliance before representing Pakistan at the International Mixed Martial Arts Amateur Championships in Bahrain in 2017 and 2018.
Despite being unable to medal both times, Irfan kept at his craft working with his teammates at Shaheen Mix Martial Arts Academy. He also worked with Bashir’s first student Waqar Umar, 29, a Lahore native who has been competing in ONE Championship since 2014.
Irfan was then called up to take part in “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series” for a chance to win a US$100,000 contract. The first Pakistani to win in the ONE Championship subsidiary was Anita “The Arm Collector” Karim, 22, of Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan.
Karim is considered the first female Pakitani to compete in a professional MMA bout. On February 28, 2019, she defeated Gita Suharsono, 26, of Indonesia at “ONE Warrior Series 4” in Singapore.
Watch all the “ONE Warrior Series 6” bouts here: