Kurdish Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Makwan Amirkhani on Sunday defeated American opponent Jason Knight via a split decision at the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) event in Liverpool, the United Kingdom.
The Kurdish fighter recovered impressively from a first-round scare where he was knocked down twice by Knight and ended the second round on top with a crucial takedown before dominating the third and final round.
Before the fight, Amirkhani said he was ready to fight current featherweight champion Max Holloway, but admitted he had to earn his title shot.
“I could fight Max Holloway, but that would be too much for me to ask,” he said in an interview with The MMA Hour. “As I said, I think I need to earn my shot, so let’s take it step by step.”
After an impressive performance, in what was surely a contender for Fight of the Night, Amirkhani is well on his way to UFC glory and has a chance at becoming the next featherweight champion.
Amirkhani, who fights out of Turku, Finland, now holds a professional MMA record of 14 wins and three losses (14-3-0) and is considered a submission specialist, according to the UFC’s official website.
The 29-year-old was born in Kermanshah in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) before he moved to Finland with his family during the Iran-Iraq war.
He has been involved in the sport since an early age, first as a competitive wrestler for the Finnish national team before competing as an MMA fighter.
The Kurd, known as “Mr. Finland,” recorded the fastest win in UFC featherweight history when he knocked out opponent Andy Ogle after eight seconds of the first round on his debut at Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena on Jan. 24, 2015.
The win earned him a “Performance of the Night” honor and ultimately recognition as one of the UFC’s promising talents in the 145-pound division.
After the Ogle fight, Amirkhani went on to win his next two UFC bouts, including a submission against Masio Fullen on June 20, 2015, and a unanimous decision victory against Mike Wilkinson on Feb. 27, 2016.