MMA: Ádám Borics on the UFC call, the crying opponent, and the world title
The journey of Ádám Borics (18 wins – 1 defeat) from Sirok, a village near Eger, seems like a fairytale. At the beginning of his professional MMA career, he even had to undertake cleaning an MMA gym in the US to prosper, but now, he is preparing with all his strength to become the first Hungarian to combat a title fight with the old-new featherweight champion Patricio „Pitbull” Freire of Bellator, the second promotion of mixed martial arts. Pitbull lost to A. J. McKee last July, but he defeated him in Friday’s rematch.
– If someone told you thirteen years ago that Ádám Borics will be the challenger of the Bellator featherweight champion in 2022 and can combat a title fight, would you believe it?
– I dreamed about it, but initially, I just wanted to fight at least once – said Ádám Borics, who is 19th in the overall ranking of lightweight MMA competitors, while Bellator ranks him second, meaning he is in a great position after defeating Danish Mads Burnell in March. – A year or two ago I didn’t think the title fight would come true, but now I know I can be the best 66-kg fighter in the world.
– Why did you choose mixed martial arts?
– When I was a little boy, I always wanted to do martial arts, but in Sirok, where I grew up, I didn’t get the chance. Later, it wasn’t an issue in Eger, so I tried Thai boxing first, then I did Kempo and wrestling. I liked all of them because of the fight, but MMA in particular, because I think it’s a „pentathlon” for combat sports – you have to be comfortable in both striking and ground fights. Plus, MMA was popular.
– You also left the University of Physical Education for a professional career. Weren’t you afraid of failing?
– I think two people in the world believed that this could work out for me: my fiancée and myself. No one except us thought that I could go this far. I’ve always been purposeful, but I had a plan B: I completed a coaching course, so if I got hurt, I could have worked in the gym.
– You made your debut at the promotion’s fifth gala on August 1, 2014, as part of the now-defunct HFC (Hungarian Fighting Championship). How do you see the current situation of domestic cage fighting?
– It’s terrible. HFC was a great initiative, but it stopped so suddenly. The direction is wrong right now. Once I retire, I will move home and reform Hungarian mixed martial arts. I have no shortage of ambition and planning. I am still focusing on my own career at the moment, but I am also trying to pave the way for young Hungarians.
– Do you keep in touch with any of the Hungarian MMA fighters? Norbert Növényi Jr. is also on the right track at Bellator.
– The Hungarian martial arts society is a kind of community, so of course, I am friends with many athletes. I keep in touch with the members of the freestyle wrestling national team, the Thai boxers, and István “Kokó” Kovács. I see great potential in Norbi, who is still in a good position. Unfortunately, he had a serious injury, but mentally he will be stronger.
The rematch of Bellator’s featherweight title fight, the A. J. McKee – Patrício „Pitbull” Freire clash, was held in San Jose, California, in the early hours of Saturday morning (Hungary time). The latter won by unanimous points, so the Brazilian repossessed the championship belt.
Not many expected the 34-year-old Patrício „Pitbull” (33–5) to beat the hitherto undefeated A. J. McKee (18–1) in the rematch after losing last year. McKee had his mouth wide open at the announcement of the result; he didn’t believe he had lost. Unlike the previous match, in which the experienced Brazilian gave up the fight in the 2nd minute, Friday’s clash was close throughout. Ádám Borics believes that Pitbull’s victory will not put an obstacle to the title fight.
„I was a little surprised by the result, I expected A. J. to win. I wasn’t impressed with their performance. Since McKee has previously stated that he will never fight in 66 kilograms again, and President Scott Cocker mentioned my name, it is almost certain that I will fight Pitbull for the title” – he told Nemzeti Sport on Saturday.
– How did the American opportunity come about?
– It started with a phone call. A few months before that, I was still a freelancer – since I had a dispute with my coach – and my friend István Sörös told me will go to the States and what if I joined him. At the time, I was working as a masseur, I had no money to travel, but my guests and Sörös helped me, so I could go. I trained there for three weeks, then I won my first fight under Bellator’s auspices, which was worth a long-term contract, so I got my visa, and I could move.
– The move wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, though…
– It didn’t start well. My fiancée didn’t have a visa, so we got married quickly, but we had to wait several months for the papers. Then we finally got to the US, but after two weeks, I broke my hand, I couldn’t fight, so I had to undertake cleaning our MMA gym to prosper.
– Almost exactly five years ago, on April 14, 2017, the aforementioned clash – that overwrites everything – against Anthony Taylor took place in Hungary. Can we expect seeing you fighting in your homeland?
– The most amazing thing would be to win the title at home, but for financial reasons, it is unlikely that Bellator would allow the match to be moved to a different venue. However, I see a great chance that if I win, I could defend the title at home in 2023. I have already been given the opportunity to fight at home twice, and the Hungarian audience’s encouragement gave me extra energy in both cases.
BORICS’ VICTORY IN THE DOMESTIC ENVIRONMENT
– Back to the US: do people recognize you there?
– The situation in Hungary is very rough. Even after my victory with Aaron Pico in 2019, a lot of people recognized me, but year after year, game after game, more people address me. In the United States, I don’t really meet people. My day in life includes getting up, training, eating, drinking, and sleeping. Almost everyone drives everywhere. However, I have been recognized several times, especially at galas.
|Borics is training in a unique complex in Hungary|
– Many competitors try to gain fame not with their fighting skills, but with their verbal statements before their matches, with the so-called „trash talk” that disparages the opponent. Do you consciously avoid this?
– First and foremost, I want to stand out with my performance. When I was not known yet, several people in Hungary advised me that I should make remarks about my opponents. I don’t think this behavior would suit me well, and I don’t want to lie to myself. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have pushed Jay-Jay Wilson (with whom Borics would have competed, but his opponent couldn’t achieve the required weight – the ed.) during the weigh-in. He is extremely obnoxious that he does not respect his opponents.
– Your latest rival, Mads Burnell, for example, made a comment before the main match that your record means nothing.
– No, several media outlets also misunderstood it. I think he meant that some people have made a good record by beating only weak rivals.
– Your most stressful fight to date – when spent 25 minutes in the cage for the first time – yet the most complex one was against Burnell of Denmark. What was the key to your victory?
– I had a great preparation, but more importantly, I riped at the age of 28. I am more physically and mentally prepared.
VICTORY OVER BURNELL
Born: July 7, 1993; Eger
Promotion: HFC (2014–2015), FFC (2015–2016), Bellator (2017–)
Weight class: Featherweight
Pro MMA record: 18–1
– With this success, you earned the title match against Patrício „Pitbull” Freire. Many consider him weaker than the previous champion, A. J. McKee. Are you better off with the Brazilian fighter?
– Patrício Freire has been a Bellator champion for six years; he’s a legend. People quickly forget, they think he’s weaker because he lost to the American in the previous match. Perhaps his style suits me better as he has similar qualities as opposed to my previous opponents. He is short and has short arms, but very good eyes. I think he’s past his heyday, but I’m really glad he’s going to be my opponent because I think his name sounds better.
– If you triumph again, what will be your next stop? Heading to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that’s valued higher than Bellator?
– I have a clause in my contract that says that if I become a champion, I will have to play another three games with my current promotion. The UFC is much more famous, watched more, my dream is to fight there, but it’s no secret that there are financial obstacles to switching right now: while the UFC only gives 8 percent of its revenue, Bellator gives 41 percent to fighters after fights. Nevertheless, I believe that I will retire from the former promotion.
– Have you been contacted by the UFC?
– I could have moved to the UFC a long time ago with my record. In fact, a manager offered me a fight when I lived in Hungary. I was younger, and I knew I wasn’t technically or physically ready, so I turned down the opportunity. In hindsight, I think I made the right decision.
– You had previously knocked out three of your opponents – Teodor Nikolov, Aaron Pico, Pat Curran – with the „flying knee.” How much do you consider this your signature move?
– It’s really become my signature move. It takes a lot of energy for most people, but it comes naturally for me, it’s like a straight left. Obviously, my opponents are preparing for it, but I can use it a lot. The best thing would be if I could win a title with that.
THE „FLYING KNEE” AGAINST PICO
Ádám Borics (13-0) stages a spectacular comeback, shattering Aaron Pico with a flying knee in round two! Now 4-0 in Bellator, the unbeaten Hungarian owns nine finishes. #Bellator222 pic.twitter.com/TjO6MaHRlY
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) June 15, 2019
– Your average weight ranges from 77 to 78 kilograms, but you compete in the featherweight, so you need to present 66.2 kilos during weigh-ins. Are you not tired of constantly needing to lose weight? Are you planning to compete in a higher weight class?
– I always say it was the last time, but somehow, I enjoy it, too. I’m sure I’ll be competing in 70 kilograms one day, but I wouldn’t have any physical advantage at the moment. I can lose weight easily, my body regenerates well. Everyone cuts weight at this level – in order to be at the top, you have to produce peak weight cuts.
– It seems it was a long time ago, but in January 2020, you suffered the first and only defeat of your professional career so far from Darrion Caldwell. There are competitors who, after losing their undefeated series, are down, but your case is quite the opposite. How did you manage to turn failure in your favor?
– I was very insecure at first. It’s not typical of me, but in my comeback fight, I was really nervous and scared. I didn’t have the killer instinct against Caldwell, I cared about the comments too much, and I didn’t focus properly. Maybe everything happened too quickly: I defeated Pico, Pat Curran, came the $1 million Grand Prix tournament where everyone treated me as a favorite. My defeater and I have since become training partners, we have a good relationship, but while I see him in training, I ask myself: how could I get defeated by him? He’s certainly not the most diligent fighter. The point is, I’m over the defeat.
– Did you ever sympathize with your opponent in the cage?
– When I’m inside, my goal is to eliminate my rival. After the games, however, I felt sorry for several people. For example, after I knocked Pico out, I heard him crying on the way to the dressing room.
– How does the killer instinct come out?
– It arrives with almost clockwork accuracy. I get spirited for those few minutes, I change. I used to yell a lot more before games to fire myself up. I have more experience now, and I have learned to deal with my emotions.
Translated by: Vanda Orosz
According to Ferenc Peszlen, Ádám Borics’s striking coach, the secluded Mátyásföld complex, that had a shower of strikes and kicks, is unique in Hungary: the complex is equipped with an official cage and everything that satisfy all needs. The trainer, who also coaches Melinda Fábián, the first Hungarian in the UFC, believes that the lack of infrastructure and professionals can be attributed to the weakness of Hungarian MMA. Peszlen also revealed that Borics, who got injured against Burnell but is already 70-percent recovered, stands out among his other competitors with his physical attributes (length of his limbs, strength) and concentration. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but the trainer doesn’t want Borics to compete in the UFC because he thinks it’s a better decision to stay at Bellator from a professional perspective. „Overall, the UFC has the best fighters, but Bellator has two weight classes, including Ádám’s, whose best will compete with the fighters of the highest-ranked organization, and they are even better than them.”