Hayder Hassan is a knockout specialist and not many people are able to recover once Hassan hits them with a clean strike – five of Hassan’s 10 fights have ended by K.O/TKO.
Hassan has fought in The Ultimate Fighter twice, the first time was in TUF 21 he made it to the finale but lost to now top welterweight contender Kamaru Usman. The second time was TUF 25 Redemption, Hassan lost in the quarter-final to Jesse Taylor who went on to win the season.
He has gone to Pheonix Fighting Championship and had his debut two weeks ago. A DQ for elbow strikes to the back of the head harshly cost Hassan, as we see those strikes every event in UFC.
I caught up with Hayder today for an interview and this is what he had to say.
Interview with Hayder Hassan conducted by Ryan Cambridge of MMA UK.
What got you into MMA and what is your first ever MMA memory?
HH: After I graduated college I was working for a pharmaceutical company and I was miserable. I spent my whole life competing in sports and I missed that part of my life. My brother who also fights got me into the sport. After he finished college he was training to make it to the NFL. After his camp finished he said let’s go to American Top Team. My bro and I have always done everything together so we were both excited for the challenge. 6 months later I had my first pro fight I KOd the guy in 9 seconds and the rest is history. My first MMA memory was getting my ass kicked at American Top Team. It was my first pro practice and I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t in the best shape cardio wise I just knew I wouldn’t quit. I got the gauntlet put on me. Every guy I trained with put it on me because I was the new guy. It was immediately how bad do you want this. I left the gym with 2 black eyes and a coconut on my head from taking a knee to the face. It was one of the best days of my life! I couldn’t wait to come back, learn and get better.
You recently fought in Dubai for Pheonix Fighting Championship. Do you plan on fighting for them again? And do you see a long-term future there, or do you wish to return to the UFC?
HH: Yes I had a great experience fighting for Phoenix. They are the top promotion in the Middle East and they treated me very well. I am scheduled to return to Dubai for Phoenix March 15th and I’m excited to represent. Currently, I see myself fighting for Phoenix and God willing becoming their next welterweight Champ. They put on a great show so it’s an honour for me to fight there. I’m a prizefighter and will go to whoever pays the most money. If it’s the UFC then sign me up. If it’s another organization then I’m for that as well.
You train at American Top Team, whats it like training in such a great gym with some of the best fighters on the planet and how do you feel you’ve improved since joining the team?
HH: Training at ATT gives you the confidence to fight anyone in the world. Day in and day out your competing against the worlds best. By the time you step in the cage you have seen it all. I can say for sure I wouldn’t be at this level if it wasn’t for my team. The blood sweat tears have all shaped me into the fighter I am. This past year was the greatest growth I’ve had in my professional career. I was able to focus on specific holes in my game and surround myself with the best coaches and teammates to get better. I look forward to being back on top in 2018.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
HH: In 5 Years God willing I hope to be working on my next passion. I like helping people and the less fortunate. I hope to be in a position that I can really make a difference.
Thank you for answering my questions Hayder. Do you have anything you’d like to add?
HH: Thanks to all my loyal fans and supporters. It’s a blessing to have you in my corner and let’s kick some butt in 2018!
One thing for certain Hayder is not short of confidence. 2018 will be a pinnacle year in Hassan’s career and he will bring a lot of eyes over to Pheonix Fighting Championship. I personally cannot wait to see him fight again as he has never been in a boring fight. Hassan will always bring fireworks anywhere he fights in the welterweight division.