Nasrat Haqparast’s first defeat since 2012 has inspired him to feel “more motivated than ever before.”
The 22-year-old stepped in on just two weeks notice to face talented grappler Marcin Held at UFC Fight Night 118 in Poland last year. While the decision didn’t go his way that night, the contest with Held has proved to be a valuable lesson.
Speaking about his learnings from the fight with Marcin Held, Haqparast explained to The Body Lock that “the number one thing was that I should never fight with too much happiness.”
Haqparast’s relaxed state inside the cage did have some benefits, though. His striking looked superb as he utilized his agile footwork to dance in and out of range before punishing Held with some heavy shots while standing in the first two rounds. For a moment, it looked as though Haqparast was going to extend Held’s losing streak to four.
However, Haqparast soon learned that programming your mentality is just as important as being physically prepared for the Octagon.
“I didn’t underestimate him, but I was just too happy to be there in the cage. I lost my focus. I wasn’t focused for war. I was just happy to be signed to the UFC and fight Marcin Held, who is a big name. My motivation was to win, but I wasn’t focused on finishing him, and that’s a lesson I’ve learned.”
As Haqparast gets set to face Alex Reyes in a lightweight battle at UFC Fight Night 127 next month, his focus and mindset are now “different.”
“This time, I’m focused to go to war,” Haqparast declared.
Rediscovering his hunger
The loss to Held was Haqparast’s first defeat since his professional MMA debut in December 2012.
Reflecting on that day, Haqparast shared that he was an inexperienced opponent up against a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt at the time. Haqparast explained that his “never give up” attitude resulted in him being put to sleep by a triangle choke.
While that could easily be enough to send any other 17-year-old home wondering what they’re doing competing in this unforgiving sport, Haqparast was inspired in defeat and became determined to experience success. And he did. Haqparast then went on to record eight consecutive victories, all via way of KO/TKO.
“When I fought Marcin Held, after the fight I had the same feeling as like when I lost for the first time,” Haqparast shared.
“I want to say it was the perfect experience for me because it put my motivation back to the highest level. If you don’t lose a fight for five years, you don’t lose the motivation, but you lose the hunger. So, this time I have the motivation back like after my first fight. I’m really hungry for this fight.”
Haqparast explained that the picture of Marcin Held with his hand raised drives him “crazy,” and he has been carrying the photo everywhere so that he can remember the feeling of defeat.
“My motivation is now really high. Last time, I didn’t do bad. I didn’t have a camp, so I couldn’t change a few things, and I wasn’t prepared to shut his game down.”
Expect a “big difference”
Haqparast is currently enjoying an extended training camp with the team at Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada. Despite visiting Montreal, Haqparast explained that his focus is entirely on “training and sleeping.”
Regarding his current physical condition, Haqparast stated he is already at an equivalent level to when he last stepped inside the Octagon. With five more weeks to add the finishing touches to his preparation, he explains that we will see a “big difference.”
“This time, I’ve analyzed my opponent and I have a good gameplan. I’m training with world-class guys now. I really think that this time I can show my full skillset, with the best conditioning and the best technique. It’s going to be a big difference.”
Nasrat Haqparast vs. Alex Reyes will feature on the Preliminary Card of UFC Fight Night 127 in London, England, on March 17.
Photos supplied by Tanya Lam.