Makwan Amirkhani feels like a new man.
The UFC featherweight has made several life changes in recent months, in order to maximize and put himself in the best position possible to succeed in his professional fighting career.
Amirkhani (16-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) returns to the octagon Saturday at UFC on ESPN+ 37 in Abu Dhabi. He takes on seasoned veteran Edson Barboza in the co-main event.
Amirkhani fought in July, submitting Danny Henry at UFC 251. “Mr. Finland” feels he’s carrying good momentum entering UFC on ESPN+ 37, much of which he attributes to some of the choices he’s made outside of the sport.
“I have not so many friends around me anymore,” Amirkhani told reporters at the UFC on ESPN+ 37 media day. “I told my family just to leave me alone and let me do my thing, and when I’m done, I’ll come back. I’m not coming to your job and interrupting your work and stuff like that, so just give me peace and let me focus on this. Let me be fully me and let me see how far it can take me. This is just the beginning.”
Amirkhani felt people were distracting him and shifting his focus to things which weren’t helping his career. The 31-year-old had to cut many friendships so he can set his sight on what truly matters for him – MMA.
“I was one day looking at the mirror and I started to cry,” Amirkhani said. “I think it was because I was thinking, ‘How could I let these people, who I thought were people who took care of me always pushing me to the right direction and helping me to go forward, how can these people let me do these things that harm my career and all that I have built?’
“Then I had to burn all those bridges with those people. I just wanted to make my life simple. To be honest with you guys I haven’t hurt a bee or not even a small ant for two years just because I wanted to be OK with myself. Whatever comes to me, I’ve earned that.”
Amirkhani is focused on Barboza (20-9 MMA, 14-9 UFC), his fighting career and nothing else.
“I spent like six or seven hours in the gym every day,” Amirkhani said. “I’m not interested in anything else. All I want to do is train hard and fight.”