Connect with us


Sahil Siraj on life-changing tournament: “I was shocked!”



Sahil Siraj FCR 16 2

The best stories are seldom a smooth journey from start to finish, bumps in the road usually add the character that brings reverence. Such is definitely the case for Swedish striker Sahil “The Knockout Prince” Siraj (9-2) who made Gothenburg, Sweden his new home after a perilous journey from Afghanistan.

After lining up his second consecutive first round knockout win in October of last year Siraj was given the chance to take part in Oktagon MMA’s Tipsport Gamechanger tournament – a 16 man lightweight tournament gifting the winner one million euros in prize money which begins this Saturday, March second.

It being called the “gamechanger” tournament is fitting, as the prize money is genuinely life changing. The tournament structure is somewhat of a throwback to older times of MMA, a welcome dash of nostalgia to an already modern and fast-growing promotion like Oktagon.

“I really like the tournament, I never thought I’d be in one, Siraj tells But when my manager Majdi [Shammas] said I was gonna be in it I was shocked, it was really nice, a tournament! It was a long time since these things happened. Its great, more exciting, more story.”

Those two straight knockout wins were a welcome return to the win column following a shocking KO loss in his debut in KSW in January of last year. Siraj faced Pole Łukasz Rajewski at KSW 78, looking somewhat more tense and passive than normal, and was eventually finished at the end of the first round.

While that was a tough loss, a painful bump in the road to say the least, Siraj tries looking at it from a positive angle. Before that loss Siraj trained hard, but didn’t quite do so in the most traditional means. He trained when possible but still had a demanding physical job as a roofer to deal with on a daily basis.

The loss was an eye-opener for Siraj, who decided he needed to take the next step in his fighting career, put his job as a roofer to the side and focused solely on fighting.

See also: Top 20 Best Swedish Combat Sports Commentators

“A loss can be the best thing that happens”

“If I hadn’t lost that fight I’d still be in Gothenburg working on roofs, I’d still be training at Nordic wellness, still not be having a proper training camp, sometimes you think a loss is the worst thing ever, but it can be the best thing that happens, it was a very good lesson. Before I wasn’t training properly and I was working full time, I didn’t have time to go ti fighter center every day, I was just doing what I can. its hard to have a family and responsibility and full time work from 7-5, so after that you’re exhausted, you don’t have energy and motivation to train. MMA training is the hardest you can train, you need to have energy.”

The massive prize money is undoubtedly a huge motivating factor, but the opening bout still awaits. Siraj will be pitted against British prospect Akonne Wanliss – a fighter who has never gone the distance in his wins and who scored a first round knockout in his Oktagon debut.

Siraj is well aware that he can’t look past Wanliss, and doesn’t let fantasies of what he would potentially do with the prize money get in the way of the fight that he first must get through.

“I’m trying not to think about it, just one step at a time, go with the first fight. I don’t try to think about the prize money, only the fight.”

Wanliss is undoubtedly a good test for Siraj. Both are top-notch, explosive fighters that are used to leaving the judges out of the equation. Siraj welcomes the challenge, but doesn’t see it as daunting in the least.

“He’s like a gorilla, just straight forward, strong, attacking with pressure. The guy’s not bad, he’s got solid skills and experience. It’s gonna be an exciting fight for sure. His pressure and offense is not gonna be a danger for me.”

Exclusive: Get to know dangerous knockout artist Sahil Siraj!

Since focusing on fighting full time Siraj has also expanded his horizons in regards to training, and is now seen regularly at Allstars Spain alongside UFC veteran Reza Madadi.

“The training is very good, its more focused training. Training with Reza is a lot more fun, you learn a lot, he’s an experienced guy. We train really hard there, everything is scheduled, the schedule is perfect for us no confusion, everything works well. It’s not easy, it’s hard training, but were doing it very well. We have new guys from everywhere, Germany, from all over the world, we get different sparring and training with lots of variety.”

There are many skilled fighters that are taking part in the tournament. German striker Hafeni Nafuka is looking to stay undefeated, UFC veteran Makwan Amirkhani is making his comeback and Machomed Machaev is one of the favourites to get to the finals.

While Siraj is hardly picky about who he will face in the tournament, he certainly wouldn’t mind testing himself against a UFC vet.

“I think at first Makwan Amirkhani, he was in the UFC and he did very well, I think he would be a very good fight. But it’s a tournament, you dont choose your opponent and also you dont say no, anything can happen.”

Siraj seems to be on the right track in life. He has dealt with big ups and downs throughout his life, meaning that his loss in KSW over a year ago pales in comparison as far as challenges go. Despite that it led to him taking leap of faith, now living a true fighters life.

Those who know Siraj know that he is all smiles and laughs outside of the cage, but he plans on living up to his nick name once inside it.

“‘The Knockout Prince’ always brings knockouts! Its gonna be great! The whole fight is gonna be totally different, a full MMA fight, I’m facing a good guy, it’s gonna be an exciting fight.”

Subscribe to on YouTube for the best MMA and Muay Thai videos in Scandinavia, make sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest news and updates and check out our sister site Maximum Sports YouTube channel for premium Swedish martial arts content!