Hardeep Rai: “I will break any fighter down”

Brave Combat Federation announced in April that Hardeep “Havoc” Rai (1-0) had signed a three-fight deal with the Bahrain-based promotion. Rai made his pro MMA debut 3 weeks later at Brave CF 5, where he defeated Arnan Chaiyasan in the first round.

“I was calm and collected when I went into the cage, he was a tough guy but I finished the fight quickly.”

The British-Indian was treated like a star by the organisation and local fans, as the promotion held their first event in India.

“It was a nice set up, the feel of a Brave event is something special. You get flown out to another country, you’re doing media days and autograph signings. I enjoyed every second of it. I came out with an India flag and the crowd went crazy, I was just soaking it in, and the crowd loved it when I jumped onto the cage after I won.”

The London-based lightweight returns to the Brave CF cage on Friday where he will be facing Team Crossface’s Sam Patterson (1-0). Rai had been preparing to face Alex Trinidad, but an injury just days before he was due to travel to Bahrain meant Trinidad had to withdraw from the bout, and Patterson stepped in on 6 days’ notice. The change in opponent hasn’t distracted Rai from his game plan, as his 12 week camp was focused on his strengths.

“It doesn’t have an impact me,” he explained.

“It doesn’t matter how my opponent performs or who my opponent is. I am in peak condition and I will break any fighter down. All that matters is how I perform. I’ve taken a lot of time to develop my striking, this is a fight where I am going to show it. You’ll see some exciting stuff.”

Brought out to Bahrain by Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa a month ahead of Brave CF 9, “Havoc” has been keen to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

“I didn’t really have a proper structure to my training in England, I have everything I could want here, this is the first time I’ve had a boxing coach or wrestling coach,” he explained.

“Sheikh Khalid has invited me to come out and train in the past, and I thought I would take up that offer since I was going to be coming out to fight. I’ll probably rep team KHK for this fight.”

“These guys train hard, I’ve been getting into the habit of training for longer periods, and it is paying dividends.”

“They have this great boxing coach who is on the Russian Olympic team. You think you know how to throw a jab, but he finds ways to improve it. A lot of the team were out in Dagestan when I came out, they are all back now, these guys push you, their wrestling is insane, and I’m picking up these
insane techniques.”

Rai was hoping to have Jackson Wink MMA coach Joey Villasenor in his corner on Friday, but the Strikeforce veteran couldn’t make the journey to Bahrain.

“We have a close bond,” Rai said. “He could see that I am trying to be this new breed of MMA fighter, and he spent a lot of time with me, fine tuning my skills. I went over as an amateur, and he was the head of their amateur group, we spent a lot of time training together..”

The pair first crossed paths when Rai decided to spend a month at Jackson Wink MMA after he won bronze at the 2016 IMMAF Amateur World Championships.

“I thought I’d take the opportunity to invest in myself, I went out there for a month and I picked up a lot. I saved up for a year to make that trip. I came back home and won 3 fights in a row. I went back this year after I won my pro debut, I used that purse to travel back to Jackson Wink for two months.”

The 21-year-old competed 13 times as an amateur over two years, and he plans to develop his professional career in a similar manner. “ A lot of young guys jump the gun,” Rai told SevereMMA.

“They try and get to the top as quick as they can. You don’t really see that in a sport like boxing, the young fighters work their way up gradually.”

“I grew a lot because of those fights, and so many young guys rush into pro MMA with 5 or 6 amateur fights. I’m taking things slowly and developing. There is no rush to think about where I am on the card or title fights, time is on my side.”

By @JeevanMMA

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: