On November 30th, 2012 at SLAMM1 there was a shift in energy. The professional debut of Aiemann Zahabi was an early Christmas present for any MMA writer. Why, because we have all heard his name, seen his amateur fights, and could not help but notice him corner many fighters in many different sized cages. First impressions can be just as important for oneself as it is for others. With the help of his professional debut, we all knew that he was going to set the tone for his career, his fans and the world of MMA that evening. Permission gave him the opportunity but quickly reminded him that it should not take more than three rounds to prove his point and it didn’t. The difference between his amateur career and the start to his professional career was that on November 30th he allowed his true story to begin. You can’t erase a professional record, it will always be a relentless reminder of your past. He had no choice but to make it count. We have all been patiently awaiting what has been secretly crafted behind the doors of TriStar Gym. On that night we were able to witness Aiemann Zahabi do what comes so natural to him and watch him deliver it, in a brand new way. Every fighter who is entering their first pro fight should have a “Cinderella” moment. When speaking with Aiemann, I could tell that he did. As a fan, I wanted to see a win. As a writer, I hoped that it was going to be everything that he could of expected from the un expected. The steps that lead every fighter to the cage, Aiemann has walked those steps a million times. He has participated in the preparation of many other fighters from A to Z. He admits that he honestly feels that his other teammates fights were just as much of his own as they were their own. This time it was going to be different , it was going to be his own personal moment. The routine was the same but the experience was going to be completely original for him. As an example of a true Class Act, his reflex mentions that his win was not only his own but also shared with Firas Zahabi and Louie Sanos. My perspective is general, to me the hardest part for Aiemann was not his fight against Kyle Vivian, the hard part was the ten year waiting list. It’s automatic to expect greatness and perfection from him because we see what surrounds his potential. His mentor and brother Firas Zahabi is responsible for such positive changes in MMA, he trains with the elite, his last name represents MMA royalty and his first home is TriStar Gym. It’s almost a natural thought to assume that he is privileged. It is harder for someone to admit to themselves that they might not have what it takes to earn that privilege. Aiemann works that much harder because he is conscious of the fact that his last name follows him wherever he goes. Two days after his win he returned to the gym because he believes that there is no time to rest when you are chasing a certain level in this sport. Before his pro debut Georges St. Pierre mentioned that Aiemann Zahabi is the last of the old school. Powerful, not because of who uttered those words but because of the detail to the observation was on point. Aiemann’s thought process and modesty almost makes me feel inadequate. He pays attention to the way that his audience views him. He makes it evident almost immediately that he is humble. If you are looking for an ego, don’t waste your time. He can’t be moved because his feet are cemented to the center of the earth. At SLAMM1, Zahabi’s arm was raised, much to the obvious happiness that his number one training partner Louie Sanos demonstrated in the cage for all of us to see. Aiemann’s inner circle is tiny but who he chooses to let in, is a well thought out process for him. He dedicates his existence so that he can be a worthy fighter. His brother Firas, family and his friends keep his humanity in perfect athletic shape. I had to put my creativity aside and ask the question that will probably follow him throughout his career in all aspects of MMA. Does he think that he will always live in his brother’s shadow or does he think that one day his first name will stand alone. He responded by clarifying to me that is brother is a coach and he is a fighter, there is no comparison. His response was prompt which made me think of two things. He has either practiced that answer or he truly understands the difference in both roles. Just like him, I am not interested in the hype or back lash of his last name. I believe that when it comes down to his pending success people will try to diminish his labor. I predict that some comments will say that he was birthed into this sport by Firas Zahabi who welcomed him with a silver spoon in his mouth. Laziness likes to find an excuse because it takes an educated mind to give credit and respect to a young man that has sacrificed so happily for a sport that lives in his soul. MMA is a huge part of what creates Aiemann Zahabi as a man. I know that he will spend his life returning his debt of gratitude to this sport. It is my pleasure when I get the permission to write for such a hyper talented but humble individual. The names that he holds in both of his hands could make it easy for him to drop names. Instead, Aiemann Zahabi keeps both hands tightly closed because to him they are friends and some are even extensions of his family. I found myself trying to generate some sort of reaction when I listed the names that are affiliated with TriStar Gym. He didn’t even flinch because he knows that reputations are sometimes just human speculations. To the fans fighters are Gods and amongst themselves they are men. Aiemann Zahabi’s career will have a long life expectancy in MMA that I am confident to write. Hopefully his “walk out” entourage can continue to surpass the length of his success.
Writer: Marianne Ricci (Chill Dog)
Photo: Jesse Bell (Chill Dog)
I definately read that whole thing.
Wow that actual made me barf a bit, the paragraph I read