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Sahil Siraj on facing ‘clown’ Wanliss again: “The only thing in my head is to beat this guy”




Sahil Siraj. Photo via OKTAGON MMA

Without even trying, Swedish MMA fighter Sahil Siraj became one of OKTAGON MMA’s most hyped fighters this spring when all hell broke loose at the OKTAGON 54 pre-fight press conference.

His fight against Akonne Wanliss was scrapped mere hours before it was set to go down, as Wanliss and Siraj’s team ended up in a brawl. The Brit claimed that the physical altercation would have affected his performance – although all examinations showed that he had no injuries – and refused to fight.

The bout was rescheduled for April 20, and since then, both the incident and the upcoming fight has been the talk of the town in the European MMA scene.

When Frontkick reaches out to Siraj, he’s training at the Allstars Training Center facility outside Alicante in Spain to prepare for the highly anticipated bout.

“Everything is going great,” he tells Frontkick in an exclusive interview. “The camp is in Spain with my coach Reza Madadi. I feel great and more than ready to go. It’s going to be a great fight.”

“Hopefully it will happen this time,” he adds with a laugh.

“Reza is not someone you say ‘move’ to”

Siraj and Wanliss will clash in the latters hometown of Birmingham and the bout has been promoted to serve as the co-main event due to the hype. However, the Swede is now allowed to have his trusted trainer Madadi with him this time.

Back in March, Siraj tried to act cool as the Birmingham fighter provoked him multiple times, both at the airport and at the press conference. However, according to the Swede, the big drama started when Wanliss decided to go out through the red corner’s exit instead of the blue corner after the ceremonial weigh-ins.

“He came out from the red corner and ended up face to face with Reza and said something like ‘move’. But Reza is not someone you say ‘move’ to,” Siraj tells Frontkick.

Instead of the former UFC fighter, the Swede will have coach Reza Frotan in his corner.

“It’s sad and bad that Madadi is not with me in Birmingham. I don’t understand why OKTAGON made the decision to ban him. Reza just defended himself, he did not injure Wanliss. I don’t understand why the organization ended up banning Reza. Nothing really happened, Wanliss didn’t have a scratch.”

How do you feel about fighting on his hometurf after all that happened?

“The thing is I don’t care about that. I train and prepare and that’s it. It’s important for a fighter to do his job. If you focus on everything else you will forget about your job. That’s my opinion. For Wanliss it seems important to do stuff like this to get fans. I’m not that kind of person. I just do what I do best, which is knocking people out.”

So it won’t be hard to walk out in front of his crowd?

“It’s not hard. It gets hard if you give meaning to something. I don’t give meaning to it, so it won’t affect me. His fans and girlfriend write shit on Instagram but I don’t have to talk shit. That’s it. You know, I have a lot of other stuff to do in my life,” Siraj laughs. “Let him do what he wants, he’s like a clown.”

Sahil Siraj: “The only thing in my head is to beat this guy”

With the one million EURO cash prize at stake in the tournament, every fight is important. However, at this point, the Swede has almost forgotten about the check as he only got one thing on his mind.

“To be honest I was excited about the prize at first, but now, the only thing in my head is to beat this guy”, Siraj explains. “This tournament is an unusual thing in Europe. This kind of money can change a fighter’s life. It’s new and exciting for both fans and fighters. It’s a good thing and OKTAGON is getting bigger and bigger. Now I have to be one hundred percent ready to get to the next round.”

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