Ali AlQaisi has the weight of an entire country on his shoulders.
Being the first Jordanian to ever step inside the octagon is not enough for AlQaisi. The 30-year-old wants to earn the first UFC win in the history of Jordan.
His second opportunity to achieve this goal comes against Tony Kelley at UFC Fight Night 179 on Oct. 10. He even has the support from the Crown Prince of Jordan, Hussein bin Abdullah, who made a phone call to Al Qaisi after his first UFC bout.
“The Royal Fighter” can feel the pressure.
“I feel I have a lot of pressure. I am not representing myself right now, I’m representing all the fighters from Jordan, representing all the Jordanian people, Jordanian fans,” AlQaisi said.
“At the same time, I feel good, I feel proud to put my country on the map. It’s not easy to be a UFC fighter. Every fighter works hard to be there and I worked hard to be here. I am so proud. You don’t know how much I’m proud. I can’t wait to get the first UFC win for my country.”
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“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream.” -Paulo Coelho For me, my dream was always to become a UFC fighter, and now here I am, holding my country’s flag high in the Octagon. What is your dream? What fear is keeping you from following your dream? I’m here to tell you it’s never too late to go after what you want. If you have the desire in your heart, you can accomplish anything. When you want something badly enough, all the universe conspires in your favor to help you achieve it.
Ali AlQaisi says “Everything is different”
AlQaisi is promising everything to be different in this fight. In many ways, the lead up to his second UFC bout is already different.
AlQaisi and his family moved to Dallas, Texas this past March so he could train. Now, the Jordanian fighter is still in Texas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His UFC debut against Irwin Rivera came on just 10 day’s notice in July. AlQaisi thought an opportunity to join the UFC was near so he and his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada on July 7.
He made the walk to the octagon just weeks later, losing a split decision to Rivera at UFC Fight Night 174 on Aug. 8. Just a little over two months after his UFC debut, AlQaisi is making a quick turnaround.
He is no longer in Las Vegas and is back in Dallas.
“Everything is different,” AlQaisi said. “All the hard work is almost finished. I worked so hard for this moment. Now it’s my time to show what I have.”
AlQaisi is also heading back to the Middle East for this fight. He has fought in Abu Dhabi four times throughout his career and has already built a fan base in the country.
It may not be Jordan, but it is a taste of home for AlQaisi. Although he was offered to fight again in Vegas, a chance to compete on “Fight Island” was a no brainer.
“I’m from the Middle East and I feel like I am going to fight at home,” AlQaisi said. “There was a maybe return to Las Vegas, but my manager talked to me about Fight Island and I wanted to be there, especially Abu Dhabi.”
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اليوم الصبح كان من أروع و أقوى الدعم الي أجاني، عند إتصال السمو الملكي الأمير الحسين بن عبدالله و إطمئنانه عليّ… و حقيقةً كلي فخر و إعتزاز و سعيد جداً بمشاهدة سموكم نزالي الآخير . و سيبقى علم الأردن عالياً في جميع المحافل العالمية إن شاءالله! I am very proud and humbled for the continued support of his Royal Highness Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah. We will continue to raise the flag high across the world. @alhusseinjo
The next time AlQaisi speaks to Abdullah, he is hopeful it will be after a win. AlQaisi and his team made adjustments after his first octagon bout.
He is now training inside an empty gym to get used to no crowd. He is also training around the same time he will be competing on Oct. 10. Win or lose, AlQaisi made history for his country last time around.
He plans to etch his name in Jordan history once again, this time, with his hand raised.
“Sometimes I’m really happy and sometimes I feel the pressure. I feel like I should have the win for them,” Al Qaisi said. I feel I should make everyone happy for me and for them.”