Adam Shahir Kayoom Discusses His Victory Over Gregor Gracie at One FC 4
When analyzing competition sports there is always a huge focus on the statistic ratio concerning who will win the encounter. Fighters whom are placed in the underdog category are often slaughtered by critics which can either add pressure or generate motivation to prove naysayers wrong.
With a record of 2-1 heading into his fight at "One FC 4: Destiny of Warriors" it seems as though defeat was guaranteed for Phuket Top Team prospect Adam "Shogun" Shahir Kayoom as he walked into battle against Gregor Gracie.
However as this game has taught us so many times never judge a book by its cover. Summoning up the inner strength within himself when the dust cleared it was Kayoom coming out victorious against his formidable foe from the legendary Gracie family.
USCS got the opportunity to talk with Adam as he discusses his underdog role heading into the fight and how the victory plays a role in his ascending career in MMA.
When you think of the word "Underdog" how do you feel it relates to your position in terms of the fight with Gracie?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I guess the term underdog implies someone who is not expected to have a high probability of winning. In terms of publicity it was good for the fight, everyone likes a David and Goliath story but on a personal level I feel like when I step into the ring I can bring a battle. Being the underdog certainly had its benefits. I was free from any added pressure. I can only imagine how much responsibility and pressure would be on the shoulders of anyone carrying the Gracie name and for that you have to respect anyone fighting under the Gracie name. I had the relative luxury of being unknown in that sense.
Now recently prior to the fight there was an online poll with accumulated two-percent rating that you would win the fight. Did this vote faze you in any way and how did it help in your push to come out victorious?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: To be honest I am not much of an internet guy! I'm somewhat detached from that world in a sense, so I didn't take much notice of it. In fact I only learnt of these statistics after the fight! I know that I work and train hard and I had a good support system with good training partners and good coaches. I just focus on the task at hand, that's all we can ever really do and for me personally, that's all I should do. If had listened to what other people had thought, I would have been a designer not a fighter. Good thing is, I am not a good listener!
With Gregor Gracie being a much recognized and skilled opponent what was the biggest advantage you feel you had over him?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I feel an advantage of mine was my striking experience. Also, I have had a fair bit of experience in weathering bad storms which certainly helped in the first round! I can recall a few of my previous fights where I had to dig deep, be patient and grind it out. I have had fights where my foot was broken, my arm fractured, my ribs injured just to name a few and I had to carry on. I think all these experiences and baptism of fires that I have had in my fights have taught me how to remain composed under fire. I don't look at this as an advantage over any opponent but I do feel that it helps me feel solid when I step into the cage.
Mentally and Physically how did you feel going into this fight?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I have a routine when I walk into the ring or cage and this may sound a little selfish but on the other hand it makes me feel free to focus on the task at hand. I walk into the ring and I just fight for me. If I forget that sometimes, I have my younger brother, my wife and my coaches to remind me of that. I go in because I want to be there and I want to do this and I enjoy the challenge. I have an old motto – never decline your challenge.
Mentally and physically, for this fight I felt secure. I had my wife's 100% support even though she was 8 months pregnant, she still told me to focus for this fight. I had my coaches with me – Professor Ray Elbe from Sparta Gym Malaysia, who from the beginning has always had my back. Professor Elbe and Professor Olavo Abreu of Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu helped me focus on my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and my game plan. I also had Coach JJ Ambrose (Bellator and UFC alumni) from AKA and Coach Andrew Leone of Phuket Top Team for my wrestling and for my conditioning and striking I had Coach Barry Robinson from A Million Styles Boxing and Robert Lek of Phuket Top Team for my Muay Thai. I trained at and was fighting out of Boyd Clarke's gym Phuket Top Team in Phuket, Thailand. During my camp I was constantly exposed to positive reinforcement, solid game plans and contingencies and a whole lot of ass beatings! In my corner I like to call them my holy trinity – Ray, jj and Barry. So I felt solid going into this fight knowing I had a great team behind me, supporting me. I also had a mindset of going into the fight with no expectations. Whatever the outcome, just go in there and shine and let the training and experience shine through.
Take us through the fight from your rigorous start in the first round to your awesome comeback in the later rounds?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: .....going through my head.....what besides Gregor's fists!! Lol.
First thing, I knew Gregor was strong and explosive, but to feel it first hand was definitely a privilege. It is one thing to think and imagine and quite another to feel it for real. I knew going into this fight it was going to be a good fight, but when he charged at me so quickly in the first round, I realized it was game on. Reflecting on the first round, I just remember how heavy he felt and I had to bring all my BJJ ability to the table. Looking back on it now, I did enjoy the jiu-jitsu chess match, but I am pretty sure at that given moment I was most probably thinking of something else, like, alright Adam, time to play good jiu-jistu! But that kind of flies out the window when you get punched hard in the head! I knew I had to work hard and be patient and make my opportunity to get to a better position.
In the training camp we had drilled working out of bad positions, controlling my breath, resetting and flushing out all negative thoughts, getting back into the present moment and executing my game plan. Hmmmmm, I shouldn't be sharing all my secrets, LOL. So in between rounds this is what I focused on. So coming back in the second and third rounds I was focused on the present not the future and not dwelling on what just happened in the past. Focusing on the present allowed me to focus on my own strengths, which I felt was my cardio and my striking.
How do you feel about the win and most importantly what do you believe got you the win?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I had some mixed emotions, they were mainly positive as it is always great to have a win but then at the same time some people were congratulating me and saying you're a Gracie hunter/slayer etc and I found that upsetting. I want people to focus on the positive. It was because of the Gracie family that I got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I personally love the Gi. If it wasn't for BJJ I would not have met so many amazing people around the world that I have bonded with. Believe me, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu makes the world a smaller place. That is my belief. The first team I competed for in Australia and Brazil was team Carlson Gracie. I even remember Master Renzo Gracie being one of the refs for the blue belt finals in the Australian Championships that I won second time running. So I have all the respect in the world for the Gracie family. They have done so much for BJJ, MMA and No-gi. I am sure people did not have malicious intent saying such things, it is just through all my Martial Arts upbringing, I was always taught to demonstrate respect towards friend or foe. I know people were really excited for me and I really do appreciate all the support and love.
Right now, I am very happy about my win, but I am also super excited about becoming a dad. We are having a girl and I have made a declaration that she can only start dating when she gets her black belt in BJJ though Uncle (Master) Liborio, my Master and BJJ idol from American Top Team, my team in America and here in Thailand (ATT Thailand).
With a win over Gracie what do you feel it will do for your career?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I believe it had definitely made me known to the greater MMA public and that can serve to help me get more fights and sponsorship. I am fortunate to be part of a very professional and well run organization in ONE FC run by Mr. Victor Cui and his team. I want to thank Mr. Victor Cui for giving me this opportunity and signing me on ONE FC which is without a doubt one of the best MMA fight productions on the world stage.
Finally what are your future plans as you continue your ascent in MMA?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: To always keep learning. That's all I ever want to do. I want to keep learning and growing.
Any final thoughts or people you would like to thank?
Adam Shahir Kayoom: I have so many people to thank it would take up way too much space here!! Obviously I thank all my family and coaches – past and present and my holy trinity I had in my corner. I want to also thank my Master, Master Ricardo Liborio from American Top Team, the man who gave me my black belt. Osu!
The gyms I would like to thank are: Phuket Top Team (PTT), American Top Team (ATT) and Q23 Academy (ATT Thailand).
I'd like to thank my sponsors: TUFF, Furious and LBG Defensive Tactics and CMD Programme.
I have to say thanks to the fabulous crowd in Malaysia and for the support of all my friends across Asia and especially my students from my BJJ Academy, Q23 in Bangkok. If anyone is passing through Bangkok you can visit us at Q23 Academy. Just come with a healthy, supportive, positive attitude and a smile on your face! You can check us out on Facebook Q23 Academy or through www.thailandbjj.com . Train smart, train safe and have fun!