Interview with Pakistani MMA Legend Uloomi ‘Kratos’ Karim

Interview with Pakistani MMA Legend Uloomi ‘Kratos’ Karim

Uloomi ‘Kratos’ is regarded as a martial arts legend in the sub-continent within Asia. Uloomi has been competing in Mixed Martial Arts bouts under the tutelage of his brothers and coaches Ehtisham Karim and Ali Sultan since 2009. He has fought on the international stage for the best part of a decade where he has encountered some high-level opponents who have gone on to bigger things. Uloomi has also fought and won in the Lumpinee stadium in Thailand. Uloomi fights out of the legendary Team Fight Fortress gym in Islamabad where he also trains upcoming MMA athletes and as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt coaches the BJJ classes with Aatif Imtiaz. I had the opportunity to catch up with Uloomi before his big and crucial fight against an Indian opponent on Brave FC on the 11th of March. I hope you enjoy it.

(Uloomi weighing in before an MMA bout)

 

Majid: Hi folks this is Majid on the MMA UK BJJ show and I am joined by international MMA star Uloomi Kratos Karim who fights of Team Fight Fortress in Pakistan. Uloomi how are you this evening?

 

Uloomi: Hello Majid. Thanks for having me over. I’m doing great, Alhamdulillah. Hope you’re doing great too!

 

Majid: I am great thank you. How has the pandemic impacted on you?

 

Uloomi: Well it started off pretty bad but we’ve been working things around according to the pandemic and keeping at it; so no complains.

 

Majid: For the readers information, can you please tell me where you and your family have originated from?

 

Uloomi: Well, My dad is from Shimshal and mom from Hunza so I’m from Gilgit-Baltistan in general but Shimshali specifically. I was born and raised in Gilgit city and lived there till 8th grade and then moved to Islamabad in 2003

 

Majid: Wow over 17 years in Islamabad. How and when did you encounter the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

 

Uloomi: So both my brothers/coaches decided to start training in such an art which would have no restrictions to fight. We had no idea that a sport like MMA existed in the world. Having a background (black belt) in taekwondo and an amazing sense of fighting, both my coaches started training us in multiple arts. Then in 2007-8 we found out that MMA exists and the coaches started learning from tapes and videos and practiced.

Then in 2009 or 2010 we had this Facebook friend visit us for the first time. Found out he’s a Roger Gracie blue belt and trains at London shoot fighters; he started teaching us more things related to BJJ.

Then after Fazal Bhai, many people from the BJJ community started dropping in at TFF and delivered multiple seminars. We would write everything down and make notes and drill them every day.

(Action shot of Uloomi against a formidable Indian opponent in an MMA bout)

 

Majid: Fazal is a great guy. What motivated you to compete?

 

Uloomi: To be honest, my brothers have been my biggest inspiration since day 1 and them always believing in me boosts my confidence every single minute of the day. They knew that I’ve always been very stubborn and competitive in everything so they pushed me to compete; and I never stopped!

 

(The TFF Head coachs and Pakistani MMA pioneers Ehtisham Karim and Ali Sultan with their student and younger brother Uloomi)

 

Majid: It’s always great to have siblings to push you on. When was your first MMA and Grappling competition?

 

Uloomi: They’re a blessing who have completely transformed my life.

My first ever competition was December 2010 in a smoker event held in Synergy MMA hosted by Bashir Bhai, in Lahore.

 

Majid: For the readers information, can you clarify who Bashir is?

 

Uloomi: Bashir Ahmad is the Godfather of Pakistani MMA. To me he’s a brother who, along with a few others which includes my coaches, made MMA a famous sport in Pakistan.

 

(Bashir ‘Somchai’ Ahmed the Godfather of Pakistani MMA)

 

Majid: He is a very hardworking and nice guy. Who is your most memorable opponent from the MMA and Grappling matches that you have participated in?

 

Uloomi: Without a doubt, Bashir Bhai is one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met!

 

I think all my opponents have been memorable because everyone e taught me a lesson. But if it was to mention one in particular, I’d go with Jeremy Pacatiw. He  fought the best out in me and, even though I don’t remember anything from that fight, I will never forget that fight!

 

Uloomi: That fight with Jeremy was incredible. Who do you model your MMA or grappling style on?

 

My fighting style has been inspired by Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez and Mighty Mouse Johnson but now I think I’ve matured into having my own style.

 

Whenever I watch someone fight, I try to take the best in them and absorb it to be able to incorporate it into my fighting style.

 

Majid: I love Anderson Silva myself. Where did your ring name Kratos come from?

 

Uloomi: In 2012 a teammate of mine called me Kratos because I looked like the character from the game God of War. After my first loss the way I came back, the name stuck by and since the looks were already there, I became Kratos. I started feeling that way too.

 

Kratos, in Greek mythology, is a Demi-God from Sparta who is on mission to kill Zeus and starts killing all the Gods on the way to him. In the end of every game, he dies, but then in the next game he comes back stronger than ever. So based on my fight life and appearance, Kratos was the perfect name.

 

Majid: I think it’s an appropriate name for you along with sexy or stud muffin. Uloomi for the readers’ knowledge what is your MMA and Thai boxing record and what are the organisations that you have fought under?

 

Uloomi: I have fought in FMD, WSOF-GC and am currently signed to BRAVE CF and have a record of 7-5 in MMA

 

My Muay Thai record 9-0.  I won a Muay Thai championship belt in JF Boxing stadium Pattaya in January 2020.

 

Majid: Do you have any belts in MMA and medals in submission grappling events?

 

Uloomi: I am the first Pakistani to win a championship belt inside Pakistan. Won it after fighting a tournament with 3 fights in one night in an open weight bracket of 60kg to 78kg. VCL lightweight champion in Lahore Pakistan. I’m the first Pakistani to win a championship belt outside Pakistan. UGBMMA Bantamweight championship in the Philippines.

 

3 times on the absolute podium in Pakistan Grappling Challenge (PGC) and multiple other medals that I don’t remember at the moment.

(Uloomi being awarded the UGB MMA belt after winning a bout)

Majid: These are very impressive achievements. Where did you guys get the name Team Fight Fortress (TFF) from? What inspired you?

 

Uloomi: I think it was in 2007/8 when Bashir first came to Pakistan, visited us and saw the board “Trims Fitness Fort” where we used to train. He then came up with the name Fight Fortress.

 

Majid: Oh, wow so Somchai coined the name. I know that you are originally an MMA guy but when exactly did you fall in love with the gi game for BJJ?

 

Uloomi: I think it was in 2014 when I went to Phuket for a training camp at Phuket Top Team and trained regularly in Gi with some amazing people like Olavo Abreu, Cris Cyborg, Ray Elbe, Marcio Cesar Gracinha, Yoshinori Hasegawa and then attended a seminar by Clark Gracie. Training with all these people not only taught me BJJ but also made me fall in love with the sport.

(Uloomi participating in a ritual before a Thai boxing bout in Thailand)

 

Majid: I am a big fan of Abreu. Do you have any favourite gi brands?

 

Uloomi: Shoutout to Fairtex Gis and Team Fight Fortress customised Gis. No other brand can take my love away from these 2 haha.

 

Majid: What in your opinion is your biggest achievement on the competition mats in BJJ?

 

Uloomi: After reaching the absolute finals and competing against the toughest guys in the country, I feel that being able to set such a standard and a level of competition for everyone in the country that they want to compete against me and beat me is the biggest achievement for me.

 

We’ve got to look at the bigger picture here; spreading and helping in the growth of the sport in the country.

 

Majid: That sounds like a great achievement. What event was this at?

 

Uloomi: There’s only been one consistent BJJ event where I’ve competed, since almost 5-7 years; Pakistan Grappling Challenge. Shoutout to Majid Gillani for hosting a series of BJJ competitions and giving us a platform to compete.

 

Majid: Oh my, thank you so much for the shout out. I want to thank my team mates Ali Sultan and Ehtisham for working with me throughout the years along with guys like Fazal, Professor Yousuf and the OG Shah. Do you prefer gi or no-gi at this time?

 

Uloomi: It’s a collective effort, brother. Team work makes the dream work and that is exactly how you’ve operated; with an amazing team by your side. Shoutout to all the Overseas Pakistani OGs of BJJ for their contribution.

 

Well, I love the Gi but as an MMA guy I love the NoGi Part. So o can’t say I have a favourite

 

Majid: Can you tell me how you met Professor Carlos? as I have seen him do many seminars at TFF over the years.

 

Uloomi: Professor Carlos was persuaded by Fazal and Majid to come over to Pakistan in 2015. After that visit he started coming over more often and has the BJJ program of Team Fight Fortress under his banner now.

(Fazal with Professor Carlos in Pakistan during late 2015 where Carlos was the first Brazilian BJJ Blackbelt to ever come to Pakistan)

Majid: I believe Fazal was solely responsible for that. What encouraged you to start coaching MMA and BJJ at TFF?

 

Uloomi: Please pardon my ignorance.

I am a firm believer in giving back and when it comes to giving back to the place that has made me who I am; I’m ready to give my life for the team! Teaching at TFF is not only giving back to the team but it has also helped me finding loopholes in my game. Teaching is equally as important as learning because once you start teaching, you find out the missing pieces that have been causing hurdles in progression of your game.

 

(Uloomi at one of the BJJ classes at Team Fight Fortress with Coach Aatif)

 

Majid: It’s funny you say that as I have encountered the same thing as well through taking up teaching. I believe you are a Checkmat purple belt, what is your lineage?

 

Uloomi: Yes sir I am a check at purple. Here’s my entire lineage:

 

Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie Sr > Reyson Gracie > Osvaldo Alves > Fabio Anibal > Adriano Balby >  Uloomi Karim

 

Majid: When and where did you meet Professor Balby?

 

Uloomi: So, I was supposed to fight in China in August 2017 (which never happened). I went to the press conference in June 2017 and met Professor Balby there. I was in touch with him already through my manager at that time.

 

So, we met in China and started training together in Gi. I rolled with him for around 15-20mins and then he started taking my test; asking me to show him techniques from different position. He would call out a technique and I would perform it. I clearly remember them being 2-3 offence and defence techniques from each (different) position.

And then we rolled again for another half an hour. The entire session lasted for around an hour and a half and I thought he was going to give me 2-3 tabs on my blue belt.

 

So, he gives a speech in half Portuguese half English and then pulls out a purple belt and I had my heart explode in my chest.

 

Majid: That is absolutely awesome especially getting a Checkmat purple belt where coaches are very competition and sparring based on their gradings. Is Professor Balby still based in China?

 

Uloomi: Professor Balby is based in Manaus Brazil. He’s a 3rd degree black belt whom I’m trying to bring to Pakistan for a series of seminars.

 

Majid: What is your favourite technique in BJJ?

 

Uloomi: I don’t think I have one favourite technique to be honest. That’s the beauty of the game for me.

 

(Uloomi and Aatif with the class after running a session with the competitors at TFF)

 

Majid: That is a great answer. I have heard that you had a rock band a wee while ago. Do you guys still jam?

 

Uloomi: Haha yes I used to be a bassist and my band was the best! I’ve learnt so much from those guys as well. DissBelief has been a huge part of my life and I will always remember those days as the best days of my life. We do meet every now and then but we don’t jam since those guys have full time jobs now.

 

(Uloomi with his band mates back in the day)

 

Majid: Who is your main training partner in the gym for MMA and BJJ?

 

Uloomi: The entire team is my MMA training partner because everyone has their own specialty. Zia Mashwani, Haider Satti and Ayub Khan, Haider Farman, Sajid Qutoshi and many others; the guys give me a good push in the striking and wrestling department.

 

For BJJ I have coach Aatif Imtiaz Butt, the BJJ head coach of the team, who is the best in the country at what he does.

(Uloomi with his mentor Coach Aatif)

Uloomi: I’ve had some guys to train with in the past who are now injured but they’ve always helped me push and get better. Taimoor Asif and Faizan Sudozai have always made sure I keep evolving and keep being creative because if I don’t, they kill me!

 

Majid: I love getting mauled by those guys when I visit TFF. What are your short term and long term plans for the coming future?

 

Uloomi: Well for now I’m playing my part in contributing to the gym and the team and let’s see if the borders open, I’d like to head back to Fairtex Pattaya to get back on the grind and work to get a fight ASAP.

 

Majid: I love Thailand and I have heard nothing but great things about the Fairtex Pattaya gym. Do you have any parting messages for the readers, especially, aspiring MMA, BJJ or Thai boxing athletes?

 

Uloomi: Just sending love, positive vibes and well wishes to everyone reading this, to their families, their friends and everyone around the world!

 

Majid: I along with my colleagues are very grateful to have you participate in an interview and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

 

Uloomi: Thank you so much for asking me to be a part of this interview and I wish you all, all the good things this year onwards!

 

(Poster of an upcoming bout at Brave FC where Uloomi will be facing an Indian based MMA fighter)

Share Article: