Ramadan, the holy month, is almost over and commercial gyms around the globe naturally see a dip in attendance as their Muslim members take a break from training due to fasting from sunrise to sunset. For most professional athletes, however, a few adjustments are made and it’s business as usual.
While a level of training may still be taking place, many Muslim fighters are hesitant to compete during this time, mainly because fasting can alter how they’re able to eat, drink, train and make weight in preparation for an upcoming fight.
The UFC’s first Muslim champ, Khabib Nurmagomedov is well known for stating numerous times in the past that he would never want to fight during Ramadan. Interestingly, this personal stance has not been shared by several rising Muslim superstars on the UFC roster.
Over the past two weeks, we have seen many UFC Muslim fighters opt to compete and perform while fasting. Earlier this month, UFC welterweight Khamzat Chimaev went the distance with Gilbert Burns while fasting at UFC 273.
Many critics were keen to point out that Chimaev “looked human” against Burns, with some fans even arguing that ‘Durinho’ should have won the bout. What they likely didn’t know, however, was that ‘Borz’ was fasting, something Daniel Cormier pointed out before the fight:
“One thing that we are not really talking about much in terms of Khamzat…Khamzat is a Muslim, he’s a Muslim man. He’s fasting all day and taking on the biggest fight of his entire career this weekend. I had a guy that lived with me, and he could barely train wrestling. So to train and prepare for a high-level fight right now speaks to the type of savage that Khamzat Chimaev really is.”
This past weekend saw both the relative newcomer Munir Lazzez and top welterweight contender, Bilal Mohammed take home a “W” while fasting. Mohammed, who has fought several times during Ramadan, believes that it gives him a mental edge over his opponents: “I’m still training during the day with no water, no food, and I feel like my body adjusts to it after a couple of days and I feel like it just makes me that much stronger mentally. Like if you can push yourself with no water, no food and then once you get to fight time and you get that food and water, it’s going to be the easiest thing in the world. You can go through anything at that point.”
As a Muslim fighter myself, I consistently train and remain active during Ramadan and while I have dabbled with an actual fight camp and even a fight while fasting, my preference remains to put violence on the shelf during the holy month.