Stepping through the front doors of the place that most people refer to as their office, it’s not a common occurrence to be surrounded by the absolute best people in their industry. Every day that Irshaad Sayed arrives at Evolve MMA in Singapore, however, that’s exactly what he is met with—the best of the best. That’s what makes him strive to continue enhancing his skills to become a truly complete mixed martial artist.

Sayed (Evolve MMA)

Sayed (Evolve MMA)

“I was based in Hong Kong before, and when the opportunity came up to fight in the RUFF one million RMB title fight, I decided to take it more seriously. I gave up my job in Hong Kong to move to Singapore to train full-time for that fight,” Sayed recalled to The MMA Corner. “I knew to win that fight I needed to get the best training possible, so Evolve was the best option for me. Training with the team here, I knew that would increase my chances of winning that fight. After winning that fight, I still teach part-time at Evolve, but I focus more on my training.”

The life of fighting comes to some people after they have tried to follow a different career path. The lure of competing takes them away from their everyday careers and they fall in love with the sport. For Sayed, though, life has always been about fighting.

“I had my first amateur fight when I was 16,” he explained. “Before that, I played a bit of rugby and cricket, just like a regular South African kid. When I was 17, I finished high school and moved to Thailand to take it more seriously.”

With a period of inactivity, due to contractual issues, stretching over a 12-month span, Sayed spent the better part of 2013 without a fight. The time was not wasted, though, as he kept busy training in a world-class facility as part of one of Asia’s most successful fight teams.

“It felt great to get back in there,” Sayed said. “I have been out for a while, so it was nice to get back in there and try out some of my new skills that I have learned over the past year training at Evolve. It was a huge relief [to fight again]. That’s what we do, and when you are not able to do what you enjoy, it takes its toll on you. I was patient and improved my game, and it was just nice to get back in there.”

After competing eight times professionally, Sayed fought in a mixed martial arts bout in his native country of South Africa for the very first time. His fight came at an EFC Africa event on March 27.

Sayed (Evolve MMA)

Sayed (Evolve MMA)

“It was something different for me,” Sayed admitted. “I am usually fighting in somebody else’s backyard. Fighting at home actually adds a bit of pressure because you have people there that are wanting to see you win. With the support comes that pressure, but I think it’s actually good because the pressure makes you perform better. I should be back [in the EFC] in June in my hometown, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Sayed secured his latest win by way of submission. It was the second submission victory of his career. With his impressive pedigree in combat sports stemming from a highly successful career in kickboxing, the submission would seem out of place for the talented striker. However, Sayed’s dedication to becoming a complete mixed martial artist is second to none. In his eyes, the submission wins are only going to keep on coming.

“I’ve been at Evolve just over a year now,” he said. “When I came here, I was basically just a kickboxer fighting MMA. Since I’ve been training with Heath [Sims] and all the BJJ world champs, I have developed into a much more rounded fighter, and I see myself now as an MMA fighter, not just a kickboxer trying to fight MMA. Training with these guys every day, you pick up quite a bit.”

With the discipline and skills that Sayed has at his disposal thanks to his training at Evolve MMA, there is no doubt that he has the opportunity to add yet another piece of gold to his collection. Sayed has the EFC Africa bantamweight title in his sights. Through his training with the best fighters and coaches in the Asian region, it’s a title that may just be making its way to Singapore soon enough.

Irshaad would like to thank his wife and family for their ongoing support. He would also like to that Chatri Sityodtong, Heath Sims and the rest of the team at Evolve MMA. He would also like to thank his sponsors: Jaded, Grips and MMA-SHOP.CO.ZA. Follow Sayed on Twitter: @IrshaadSayed

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.