Within the walls of Kaizen MMA hangs a canvas; an image of Nurullo Aliev adorned with a handwritten message.
Scribed by Nurullo himself, the message reads “I want [to] earn a lot of money, and share among the poor”.
Therein, the motivation behind the success of Nurullo Aliev is found; philanthropy.
“From early childhood, I always know the best feeling that I had is if I could help someone, it would make me happy all the time” Nurullo shares. “In our religion – in Islam – it’s a good deed to help someone; a person who is weaker than you, who is less capable, and a little poor”.
“It’s just an indescribable feeling” Nurullo elaborates. “You just have to go and help someone. When you see the person is happy, it also makes you happy. It’s [an] indescribable feeling, you can’t explain that feeling”.
“Hopefully in the future, I would love to give more, not only in my country, [but] also in different cities and parts of the countries of the world” Nurullo explains.
This desire to help those in need has shaped a journey in which Nurullo has made history.
Born and raised in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, Nurullo is the first Tajik to win a bout on Contender Series, the first Tajik to earn a contract on Contender Series, and the UFC’s first Tajik athlete.
The significance of Tajik representation on mixed martial arts’ biggest stage cannot be overstated.
Indeed, in an interview with FULL SEND MMA shortly after his Contender Series bout, Nurullo acknowledged that many are unfamiliar with Tajikistan; in fact, he felt a need to continue winning to raise awareness of his homeland.
“I want people to know more about my nation, my country” Nurullo explains. “It’s a 20-to-25 hour flight. I came all the way from Tajikistan, and from 10 million people, I’m the first ever fighter from Tajikistan [in the UFC]”.
“We do have a lot of upcoming talent, and [with] me being an example, I would love to see more people competing in big organisations like UFC” Nurullo adds.
Undoubtably, Nurullo will fulfil his desire to educate a wider audience about Tajikistan with the exposure gained from his upcoming UFC debut.
The UFC, however, will also benefit from a new audience; the loyal Tajik fanbase supporting Nurullo in his homeland.
“[I] can’t describe how our people are waiting to watch [my] fight” Nurullo says. “In our country, you have to get the TV, you have to get the internet connection ready. They [have] already been doing it, from the early days, so they gonna be ready when [I am] fighting, so they can watch”.
As Tajikistan’s first UFC athlete, Nurullo certainly sets an inspiring precedent for those who follow in his footsteps.
Of course, one must not forget that behind this young, honourable athlete is a fierce competitor brimming with confidence.
Speaking with the aforementioned FULL SEND MMA, Nurullo stated – in English – “Remember my words. Two year, I fight, and belt”.
With the undefeated 23-year-old making his highly anticipated UFC debut against Rafael Alves February 25th 2023, there is no denying that this historic moment may be the beginning of something special.
The author extends his utmost gratitude to both Nurullo Aliev and Dave Nazarov for making this article possible. The author also extends his gratitude to Dave Nazarov for providing translation.
(Photo credit to Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC; sourced from MMA Junkie)