ArabsMMA met up with Jordanian MMA Instructor Ashraf Shishani for an up close and personal interview. As one of the top Arab instructors in mixed martial arts, Shishani knows better than most about what it takes to succeed in one of the toughest sports in the world. Here’s your chance to know what goes on behind that beard!
Photo by Jendar Khemesh. For more photos visit Jendar’s facebook page
A young man with your skills and attitude, why haven’t we seen you in a cage or competitions lately?
I competed in a few BJJ tournaments, I can say I did fair, wasn’t that good yet wasn’t that bad. The last time I competed was a mess, I had stitches in one of my toes from the bottom and could barely stand up, so I ended up dislocating my arm.
The thing was most of the tournaments where in Abu Dhabi, and without sponsor it was hard for me to travel.Sometimes we got sponsored with tickets but that meant we paid for our accommodation. BJJ was still fresh in Jordan and was a committee under the judo federation, which never financed our sport, so I got more involved in becoming an instructor.
Before that I did some boxing matches with other boxing gyms in Zarqa where I live. I was preparing to get into the Jordanian nationals, but for some reasons I had to quit boxing.
Now that Desert Force and MMA has excelled, Who you thinks has potential to make it big?
There is lots of talent in Desert Force, everybody is evolving and becoming better and better every time they step in the cage. For me, I think Ammar Tchalabi, Thabet Agha, and Tarek Suleiman have all the potential to go big. These guys take the sport seriously and not just like a hobby, they cross train, work on conditioning and strength, understand how nutrition and weight cutting goes. They think like professionals and are working towards becoming professionals.
Who’s your favorite person to watch in the BJJ scene?
I don’t watch much BJJ matches, I am more into the Submission Grappling scene where rules differ from BJJ. One of whom I enjoy watching is Rustam Chsiev. But from the BJJ world, I like Ronaldo Jacare and Andre Galvao.
What are your thoughts on the level of MMA in the region and how soon before we see one of our own in the UFC?
I think we still need few more years to get scouts to our region, we have some really good talent and we can see even non Arabs are becoming interested in fighting within Arab organizations. This will eventually lead the eyes to our fighters. I think in 3 to 5 years we will see a few fighters take the big step into the UFC.
Training Hamzeh Nafush for his upcoming fight, how do you think his fight will go?
With Hamzeh, we worked on every aspect of the fight, from the stand up department to the ground game. We worked hard on what really will work, there is a great saying by Greg Nelson: Jack of all trades, master of none, master a few and jack every one” , so we worked on what really can help to finish the fight. As we all know, repetition is the mother of all skills. We have a good team working with Hamza, as we are joined by Yazan Ghattas at the strength and conditioning department, Thabet Agha is always there to support and work as a sparring partner with Hamzeh.
As a an MMA and BJJ coach, you spend a lot of time at the Gym. Tell us about the most interesting “Gymstory” !
Well it was when we were doing the army project, and one of the coaches was a multiple world BJJ champ. So we rolled a lot and I used to get submitted so many times I used to lose count. Back then I was still a purple belt and in couple occasions I would get him in a submission but used to let go out of respect. One day Pedro who was the head instructor for the army project, calls me and tells me why don’t u finish your submissions? Next time you get him, just let him tap!!!
So the next time we rolled, I was top half guard, I opened up my arm for him to go for the under hook where he would go easily on my back but I pushed myself forward to keep his back on the ground. with an arm under his head, i grabbed the sleeve of my free arm and went for an Ezekiel choke. And again as usual I was going to let go, but this time Pedro gave me the look of “you better tap him” haha, so I squeezed the hardest I can and made him tap. And I think he still hates me till this day.
Being a trainer at multiple gyms in Jordan, Who was the most interesting person you trained with/or trained?
Training with Pedro Galiza was really awesome, I learned so much from him, he’s just a walking BJJ encyclopedia.
Whats next for Shishani?
Well, I would like to try what I know and teach in the cage, practice what you preach, there is so much rust and dust to wipe off, i have to fix both of my knees first! Who knows what can happen, maybe i get myself a fight at 77kgs.
Stay Tuned on ArabsMMA for more on Instructor Ashraf Shishani.Check out his Arabic Tutorials on ArabsMMA.com
All the best for him .. but how old is he ?