Muhidin Abubakar, a Somali-British professional fighter, values every second in the ring. Among the few faces representing Somalia in mixed martial arts, he is one of the rising stars.
Abubakar, 23, who was born and raised in London, recently made his debut in the Emirates at UAE Warriors. “It was a very big platform so it was good for me to feel such a stage early on in my career to prepare me for the future,” he tells The National.
The young star says his love for the sport was instant. “I got into MMA through a friend of mine. One day he invited me to come to his MMA gym and try it out. At this point, I had already trained a little bit in karate but when I went I was instantly hooked,” he said.
“The first fighter who I really started watching was Junior Dos Santos.”
“I think Khabib is the best person to look up to because of his etiquette and values,” said Abubakar.
Despite losing a unanimous decision to South Africa's Luthando Biko at UAE Warriors 32: Africa 3, Abubakar is determined to push forward and learn from his mistakes.
“The motivation is always to get better every day so when you lose the things you need to work on become more evident. I need to get back to the gym and fix my mistakes and make sure I come back better and a more improved version of myself.”
It is undeniable that young Somalis are rooting for him, judging by the turnout for his UAE debut. A group of Somali professionals called The Somali Professional Network, or SPN, arranged for young nationals from around the UAE to attend Eithad Arena on Yas Island and support Abubakar.
“I didn’t expect that many people to come so it was nice to see so many people come and support,” he says. “It means a lot to me.”
In another gathering held by SPN in Dubai a day after the fight, Abubakar shared his life lessons, and what it means to represent Somalia.
His message to the youth is the same he would give to anyone chasing a dream: “Always have belief and believe in your ability to do anything. Nobody is any different from anyone else, the same way other people can achieve their goals so can we.
“I always try to bring some positivity to my people because of how much negativity gets associated with us.
“Maybe for some people it gives them a bit of confidence that, if a Somali is doing something, then they can do what they want to do as well.”