‘No one was going to stop me that night, because I had so much more laying on the line.’ Says HEX featherweight champion Kaan Ofli, speaking about winning the title at HEX 25 earlier this year.
Ofli captured the title in the main event of the night, submitting Jarrett Wilbraham in the third round at the Melbourne Pavilion, after stepping into the fight on two weeks’ notice. Ofli said the moment of being announced the winner was more relieving than it was invigorating.
‘You think that you have this huge surge of energy…but it’s like you just feel a great sense of fulfilment…a sense of relief, a sense of relief that all your hard work, all the time and hours you put into your craft…it all pays off.’
For Ofli, the fight represented much more than just the culmination of his hard work and effort, as a few weeks before he got the call to fight, his family suffered the sudden loss of his brother-in-law.
‘A few weeks before that fight even got presented to me, three or four weeks, we had a death in the family. My brother-in-law passed away. It was a sudden death at a worksite, and this touched as a lot, not only because he was a part of the family, but he was also an undefeated bantamweight MMA fight – Muhammad Abdou. He also fought in Melbourne and in the Melbourne Pavilion, and he was back in training and was ready for a comeback. So, at the time I was supporting my family, I was grieving, and I was also supporting my teammates, I was supporting Jack [Jenkins] getting ready for his fight and the other boys getting ready for their fights.’
‘I felt it was destiny for me to prove it to myself, to prove it to my family, and also do it for Muhammad Abdou, to fight for him at that time…when I got offered the fight I was like “this is what’s right. This is what’s meant to happen. God’s paved the way, and I’m going to take this opportunity and I’m gonna win, I’m gonna smash it, I’m gonna kill it, even though its two weeks’ notice.”,’ Ofli said.
Ofli also captured the Bushido Fighting Championship featherweight title a few months prior, traveling to Belgium to appear in the main event of Bushido 84. The opportunity to travel and fight is something that Ofli says he is very appreciative of.
‘I personally love fighting internationally and it was a decision I gravitated towards because I couldn’t actually stay active in Australia. I was struggling to get fights early on so I sold everything and I made the move [to Bali]…I love fighting everywhere, I love fighting in general…but there’s something more to it where I can go to enemy territory, unknown territory, and fight and takeover and win.’
Ofli is currently in Bali, training for the next ten weeks before coming back home to Melbourne to finish his camp, preparing for what the Turkish-Australian hopes will be an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series.
‘Just rumours. I’m gravitating towards the contender series this year, we’re pushing for that. If that doesn’t happen, I’ve heard some rumours that UFC is coming to Sydney towards the end of the year, so I’d love to be on that show. Or both.’ Said Ofli.
Although a UFC appearance is at the top of his list, Ofli is not opposed to having another fight before making that jump.
‘We’re aiming for those two things, contender series and UFC, but I’m not waiting for anything. We’re gonna ramp it up and we’re gonna get ready for something.’