Makwan Amirkhani – A UFC Fighter’s Story

Few could have foretold the explosive impact Makwan “Mr Finland” Amirkhani could have had on the UFC with his opening fight against Andy Ogle ending in only 8 seconds in the 1st round thanks to a flying knee and a TKO. His second fight, against Mexican Masio Fullen, also ended in the 1st round, this time thanks to a rear-naked choke. His third fight, against Briton Mike Wilkinson in London, went the full 3 rounds but Makwan prevailed once again and despite a brief moment of worry at the hands of a rear-naked choke, still won the fight by unanimous decision.

Such beginnings are rare but when you see where the man has come from and what he has achieved, it makes his feats even more remarkable. To overcome such adversary, in an adopted country and still come out on top takes courage, willpower and a sense of purpose that few can match.

“My family is from Iran, we are Kurdish people from Iran so we moved to Iraq, I don’t know the year, but I was 4 or 5 years old when we moved Finland as refugees. Of course there it was, you know, rough. It wasn’t the best place for a child. I felt different because everybody was white. I was the only kid in our school, 600 kids, and I was the only one who was brown.”

From an early age, Makwan had to contend with bullies. Being different is hard, people are always afraid of what’s different so he had to adapt and learn and evolve to survive. Bullying affected him more than he knew, at one point even leading him to question his very identity. But, it would never be enough to keep him down and while it’s always darkest before the dawn, Makwan came out on top once again.

He started wrestling from the age of 5 years old with all of his cousins but back then he didn’t enjoy the sport, preferring baseball where you didn’t sweat so much. He also saw baseball as a way to make money, showing he knew his potential as a professional athlete even when he was young.

His Beginnings In The UFC

It was around 2010 when he realised that wrestling wasn’t going to take him anywhere as its popularity had dipped incredibly. He was able to win titles and championship without really challenging himself and it was around this time that, when speaking to a friend, decided he would like to try MMA. Makwan quickly turned to Riku Immonen who, after some persuasion and a promise from Makwan to do whatever it takes even if it meant sleeping in the gym, decided to train him up to be an MMA fighter.

After training, Makwan went in to the amateur MMA leagues in Finland where he dominated, only losing twice to a triangle choke by Viktor Tomasevic and a unanimous decision at the hands of Adam Ward at the Cage 24 event in Turku, Finland. His 10 wins in the amateur leagues put him in good stead and it wasn’t long before the UFC came knocking, a decision they definitely don’t regret having awarded him with the ‘Performance of the Night’ award for his flying knee knockout.

At the age of 27, his career is still in its early stages and it can only go up for the man that loves what he does, a man that has a passion for the sport and a man that will give every last ounce of himself to win.

“You feel, just a small moment, you feel like a god, it’s a really small moment, but you still feel like, you know, something out of this space, you know. The feeling is something that, you feel like, I don’t give a fuck if somebody is a millionaire but this is something that you cannot buy.”