Pakistani Pride At Stake as Bashir Ahmad Prepares to Take on Bruno Pucci at ONE FC: 'Kojima vs Leone'

More proof that mixed martial arts (MMA) is truly a global phenomenon.

ONE FC: "Kojima vs Leone" will be the first time that a fighter from Pakistan has taken on an opponent from Brazil. In mixed martial arts (MMA) terms, it is a mismatch, the country which has produced more champions than any other against a place where the sport is still a novelty.

The man entrusted with the task of bridging this immense gulf in terms of success and experience is Bashir Ahmad. After a triumphant international debut at ONE FC: "Kings & Champions" in March, he was mobbed by fans at Lahore Airport, but will need to put in the performance of his life if he wants a similar reception this time around.

The opponent facing Ahmad on September 13 is Bruno Pucci, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and No Gi Grappling World Champion and the Pakistani knows he is in for the toughest test of his MMA career.

"He brings a very specific skill set to the table which makes this a very, very fun fight to train for. I know that after training at Evolve, he's gonna have improved in all other areas of his game and I am prepared for that. However, I really like the match up and I think it is going to do a lot to make me a better fighter not only for this fight, but down the road, too."

Both fighters boast perfect professional records of 2-0, but whereas Ahmad's pair of wins have come in Singapore and Pakistan, his opponent emerged from the highly competitive Brazilian scene and Pucci's most recent victory was over a 4-0 fighter.

It is difficult to find high enough caliber training partners in Pakistan and for this reason Ahmad has decided to base himself in the U.S. as he prepares to do battle in front of 15,000 Indonesian fans at the Istora Senayan Stadium in Jakarta.

"I am in Virginia training for this fight, so expect the best Bashir Ahmad we've seen so far. My area has a lot of gyms so what I have done is that I have one main MMA coach, Bill Easlick, and I am also taking this opportunity to train at different gyms in the area. We have top level grapplers and I will be heading up to New York a few times this trip to train there as well."

Ahmad made the decision to train in the U.S because he knows what a significant moment this will be for him. A win over an opponent with Pucci's credentials would be a massive boost to his MMA career and immediately establish him as one of the top featherweights on the ONE FC roster, but a loss would be devastating for his growing army of supporters in Pakistan.

His win over Wiratchai was live on ESPN in his homeland and seeing Ahmad enjoy success competing for Asia's biggest MMA promotion has been a major boost for the fight scene in Pakistan.

"Me fighting for ONE FC was awesome. Pakistani MMA suddenly became legit and people wanted to be a part of this who previously were not taking us as seriously as they should, and I am talking mostly about sponsors. I got signed to one of the largest mens-wear brands in the country, Stone Age, right after the fight. Winning a ONE FC fight did a lot both for me personally and for the sport."

Asian MMA is expanding rapidly and neighboring India has seen some promoters sink money into the industry although, so far, with scant reward. Pakistan has a more precarious security situation, but Ahmad still believes that the sport has plenty of potential to grow.

"We can't even have international cricket in the country ever since the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team despite the country loving cricket. So, I don't know what we can expect if the time comes when we can have 10,000 people at an MMA event, but Pakistan does have a love for action and wrestling is in our history so yes, it can take off here. I think it's the type of sport that can be immensely popular anywhere."

www.twitter.com/jamesgoyder

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join MMAmania.com

You must be a member of MMAmania.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMAmania.com. You should read them.

Join MMAmania.com

You must be a member of MMAmania.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMAmania.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5349_tracker