By Caoilte de Barra
The 2022 IMMAF World Championships are fast approaching, and athletes are readying themselves for the competition.
One of the standout contenders from the European Championships, Patrick Habirora, is one of the athletes hoping to upset the masses in the welterweight division by building on a performance that saw him score four consecutive TKO/KO finishes to secure a position in the final.
Speaking on his streak of finishes, the silver medalist explained that he was not hunting for the finishes, and they were a result of the game plan in place.
“Honestly, the knockouts, I wasn’t looking for them. I was just doing my game plan, and it came like that because of the game plan, the vibe, and also the flow of the fight. But now I feel hungry because I am still not a European or World champion. So, I am looking forward to the World Championships.”
His hot streak of victories was stopped in the final when Ioan Harris submitted the Belgian standout via submission, an experience that Habirora believes he learned more from than if he had won.
“This fight was really good because sometimes, as a fighter, if you win everything as quickly as I did, you can get quite a big head. It also helped me understand my body because, after five fights, I didn’t know how I would feel. So for me, it was a big experience, and I think I learned more in that defeat than if I won.”
Despite not winning a gold medal, Habirora’s popularity rose at a rapid rate, garnering plenty of media attention before getting verified by Instagram. However, as good as the media attention can be, it is something that Habirora appreciates but is not too fussed about either.
“I don’t want to be rude, but honestly, I don’t care. I didn’t have that before, so I am just working on myself. Media is talking about me, but when I was losing, they weren’t there. So now I am winning, they are, it’s good, but my focus is on fighting. I love to fight, I love to perform, and I want to win. That’s the only thing.”
The twenty-one-year-old is currently training in Morocco and has dedicated his life to MMA, training full-time with no other distractions.
Following his silver medal-winning run, Habirora won a regional title against fellow IMMAF competitor Manuel Del Valle. Comparing the experiences, he spoke highly of competing in IMMAF and hopes to better his performance at the European Championships.
“IMMAF is way different. That’s the best thing! If you are an amateur, you have to compete in IMMAF. You will never know your true level otherwise because you fight against the best guys around the world. Maybe you are the best in your country, maybe you are the best in your city, but like around the World, there are so many talented guys, so you have to fight them.”
“[At the World Championships] I will try to do better than the Europeans. That’s the only thing I can say. I don’t want to say I’m going to do this or that. It’s amateur, so you just come and fight. But trust me, I’m not looking for decisions. That’s the only thing I know. I’m always looking for the finish, so I will always look for the finish.”
In a division full of talent, including the pound-for-pound number one Ramazan Gitinov, Habirora will be eyeing up the division and looking to cement his place as one of the best when the IMMAF World Championships kick-off in Belgrade, Serbia.