In a thrilling display of sportsmanship and dedication, UFC Lightweight Champion and renowned Russian professional mixed martial artist Islam Makhachev recently expressed his admiration for Abu Dhabi’s commitment to sports and its investment in the future generation of athletes. Makhachev, with an impressive record of 25 wins versus one loss, shared his thoughts during the inaugural Union Wrestling Cup, organized by the UAE Wrestling Federation under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This prestigious event occurred at Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Arena on January 24-25, drawing significant attention and participation.
Islam Makhachev’s Perspective
Wrestling’s Significance for Young Athletes
Islam Makhachev, at 32 years old, expressed his happiness to be in Abu Dhabi for the first wrestling event of its kind. He passionately declared that such events are primarily for the younger generations and kids. In his own words, “In our country, Dagestan, Khabib, and I, everyone begins with wrestling. The sport of wrestling will make your body strong and prepare you for any other sport. If you start with wrestling, in my opinion, you can do any sport. I wish the very best for the kids.”
Abu Dhabi’s Sports Prioritization
Makhachev commended Abu Dhabi for its unwavering commitment to sports and nurturing the next generation of athletes. He emphasized that Abu Dhabi’s focus on sports, specifically targeting the new generation from the region, is backed by substantial investments in energy and finances. He firmly believes that these investments will yield positive results in the future, stating, “When you focus and invest, results follow. So, stay patient and keep working. Abu Dhabi has great potential.”
Engaging with Fans and Participants
Beyond his inspiring words, Makhachev actively engaged with fans and participants during a meet-and-greet session at the fan zone. This interaction provided a unique opportunity for fans to connect with their champion and share their passion for the sport.
Embracing Traditional Emirati Wrestling
Makhachev’s commitment to the sport extended beyond the mainstream as he took some time to meet the fighters of Motaraha. This traditional Emirati wrestling was also part of the competition. His willingness to embrace and appreciate different forms of wrestling highlights his deep respect for the sport and its diverse practices.
Distinguished Presence at the Union Wrestling Cup
The inaugural Union Wrestling Cup attracted a host of distinguished personalities at its opening ceremony, underscoring the event’s significance and impact. Notable attendees included:
- H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence
- Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi
- H.E. Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the UAE Wrestling Federation
- H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC)
- H.E. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Secretary General, UAE Wrestling Federation
- H.E. Abdulmunem Alsayedmohamed Alhashmi, Chairman of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation
- Nenad Lalovic, the President of United World Wrestling (UWW)
- UFC Champion Khamzat Chimaev
- Board members of the Federation
Their presence added prestige to the event and emphasized the importance of promoting wrestling and combat sports in Abu Dhabi.
Islam Makhachev’s admiration for Abu Dhabi’s dedication to sports and investment in the future generation of athletes resonates deeply with the spirit of sportsmanship and commitment. His words and actions during the Union Wrestling Cup serve as an inspiration to both aspiring athletes and sports enthusiasts alike. As Abu Dhabi continues prioritising sports, it is poised to become a hub for nurturing talent and promoting combat sports.