MMA: One Championship's Amir Khan a 'different fighter' after staying #75hard during circuit breaker

Amir Khan believes all the sacrifice he put in will pay dividends as he looks to re-establish himself near the top of One Championship. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - He usually has his next opponent in his crosshairs but on the first weekend of Singapore's move to Phase 2 on June 19, local mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Amir Khan's sights were set on something else: a thick, juicy burger and some golden fries.

And who could blame him? The 25-year-old One Championship fighter had gone over 100 days during the circuit breaker period eating healthily and training every single day, as part of a #75hard challenge he had taken on.

The rules of the 75-day challenge included working out twice a day for at least 45 minutes each time, eating healthily and drinking a gallon (3.8 litres) of water a day.

"It really tests you mentally," said Amir, who trains at Evolve MMA.

"I'm home every day so it's easy to let go (and) I actually failed the challenge once.

"I was on a 30-day streak initially, failed and rested for 2 days, and had to start the 75-day challenge all over again."

The #75hard challenge was just one of the things he kept himself busy with during the circuit breaker period, which began in April as part of the government's efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

He had come off a defeat against Japanese fighter Kimihiro Eto in February - the fourth loss in his last five fights - and knew he needed to do something to rediscover the form and fire that made him a lightweight title contender, and one of One's brightest prospects.

His answer? Going back to basics.

"I often sent our Evolve MMA head coach, Siyar Bahadurzada, videos of my shadow boxing," he said.

"He's also the one who told me to take this time to sharpen my basics and to do them repeatedly for one to two weeks as it takes repetition in order to form good habits.

"Once I have a strong and solid foundation, my overall game will gradually improve."

The lack of resources at home meant he had to improvise, and the multi-storey carpark near his home became his makeshift gym.

That was where he did shadow boxing, sprints, and drills with the agility ladder and medicine ball.

It was also where he taped pads to a pillar, and practised his striking while building up his conditioning.

"It's called threshold conditioning," he explained, adding that he would do five minutes at a high pace, rest one minute, and do three rounds.

"I pushed for maximum effort within a short period of time (because) I want to be able to maintain a high power output for a long period."

He believes all the sacrifice he put in will pay dividends as he looks to re-establish himself near the top of One Championship.

Already, he feels sharper after returning to Evolve as part of its fighters' programme on June 22.

While he does not know when his next fight will be or who it will be against, Amir added: "I've improved and fully utilised the time in lockdown to emerge as a different fighter. I can't wait to get back in the cage."

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