I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Irshaad ‘White Tiger’ Sayed last Friday on Human Rights day. I walked into the local gym where he was training just some basic movement sparing with one of his former students and up and coming fighters Hishaam. This was the 2nd time I had met him in person and again I got this sense of all knowing calmness as you get with experienced warriors. Thank you Irshaad, it was an honour to have met you and sat down to get to know you.SO here is what he had to say on his upcoming fight with Leo Gloss and what it means to be able to fight in South Africa.
Hi Irshaad, thanks for your time today. Welcome back to Cape Town, when was the last time you were here?
It’s been more than a year since I have been home, last time I came back was just to visit some family; and its good to be back!
You are back, not just a holiday this time but to debut in EFC Africa, where you will be facing Leo Gloss who is also coming back from a long break. Do you have a set tactic or strategy for this fight?
Yea I think it’s a good match up. He has been out for a while and I have been out for a while. Although, my year I haven’t been fighting I have been working very hard. So I have updated my skill set and I think I am a much more rounded fighter than I was a year ago. So I will definitely look to have the fight on the floor for a bit of the time, but I will want to employ some of my strikes and kicks. I know he is a good boxer, but its not a boxing fight…
What does it mean for you to be able to fight in South Africa? Especially since 4/5 years ago this was not possible to make a living off and you either stuck to being an amateur and the ‘love of’ or traveled overseas.
Yea that is true! It is amazing how far the sport has come in such a short space of time. The first night that I was here, I went to go watch an amateur event (CFL6). I was extremely impressed with the level of the fights compared to 4/5 years ago. 4/5 years it looked like guys were just wind milling at each other whereas now even at the amateur level the fights are quite technical. So I am not surprised to see guys can actually make a career out of MMA now in South Africa. Yea, its good because, when I was a kid I would never have dreamed that this would be my job. There are very few people that get to do what they love on a daily basis and I think I am one of those blessed people. Now that MMA has become a more mainstream sport, it will give more youngsters an opportunity to work towards making a living out of something they enjoy.
You can’t put a price and coming back and fighting at home to be honest. All my fights have been overseas and I have always been the guy fighting in the other person’s backyard. Now its my opportunity to fight in my home town in my home country. But with that support comes added pressure, cause here everybody wants you to win, whereas overseas every wants you to lose. With this sport comes the pressure, but I prefer the support over the pressure.
What can the fights expect to see in the fight? You said you want to go to the ground and stand and bang a bit to test yourself and mix it up. Should the fans be expecting an explosive fight or a more sit back and test each other out type of fight?
Its hard to say, cause once you get in there you can have a game plan but as Mike Tyson says: ”Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth”. So of course we have a game plan and we try to stick to it as much as we can. So the fans can definitely expect an explosive fight as we are both good athletes and explosive. You will see a mixture of MMA. You will see strikes, some takes downs and some BJJ. If you appreciate MMA, you will appreciate this fight.
You are still based out of Evolve in Singapore, will someone from your team come down to corner you or who will be in your corner?
Training out of Evolve in Singapore. We have some good coaching staff. I really wanted one of training partners or coaches to come down. Thankfully EFC have arranged for my friend and training partner Eddie Ng to come down. If you follow Asian MMA you would have seen him compete in ONE FC, he is a superstar over there. He is coming down to corner me and I trust him fully as a corner man. He has cornered me before and that fight went well so I am looking forward to having him in my corner.
Anything you want to say to your fans, family & friends?
Yea, firstly a I’d like to say thank you to EFC for giving me the opportunity to come back home and fight. And then, I’d like to say thank you to my family for all the support. And to my fans, as soon as they announced my fight; people have been sending me messages wishing me luck and good to see me back and wishing me all the best. It is a really uplifting feeling to know people you have never seen before or met before out there are supporting you. Even though you have never met face to face. So a big shout out to all those guys that are supporting me, sending me the messages. I am looking forward to the fight and expect to see some fireworks!
You can follow Irshaad on Twitter here: @IrshaadSayed