People call him Mach. Makhmud Muradov is a Uzbek-Czech professional fighter of mixed martial arts. He lives going betwen Prague, Bukhara, Uzbekistan, and Las Vegas, Nevada. With his achievements he earned a contract with UFC, which makes him a popular star of this dangerous and popular sport. He recently became the father of his daughter Rumia, whose mother is the singer Monika Bagárová. In an interview for LP-Life.com, he told us what life stage he is in, how he misses his parents who have not yet seen his granddaughter because of the coronavirus, and what his plans are in wrestling and in life.
What do people call you?
Mach. They call me Mach, because in our country Makhmud is shortens to Mach.
You are going through a happy period in life, can you talk about fatherhood?
Many people told me I wouldn't get any sleep and just change stinky diapers. This is the greatest thing I've ever experienced in my life, and I think everyone should experience it. I definitely don't mind changing my daughter's diapers or bathing her. She is amazing and I really enjoy everything I can do with her. It cannot be described in words.
So you don't have a problem with changing diapers?
I do not. I'm happy to have the little one at home. When she's crying, I feel awful, I'd like to take whatever's bothering her upon myself. She's my daughter, so I'd do anything for her.
You train a lot, so how much time do you spend with your family?
Not much. Either during the day when I'm on break or in the evening. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of time. But when I'm home I want to be with my daughter. I don't want to miss her childhood just because I have to work. I'm doing the best I can do be with my family.
What does your typical day look like?
It's a job like any other. I get up in the morning and go to training, then I have some meetings, I go around talking to sponsors, I have a company to go with that and in the evening I have another training session. This is how most professional wrestlers live. Our life is basically mainly about training, eating and regeneration.
What kind of training sessions do you have?
In the morning we have a circuit strength training and in the evening we have wrestling, boxing and the like. Sometimes the workouts are lighter, other times more demanding, but the one sure thing is that I have two to three per day.
You're a large man, someone might say you're scary. Was that always a thing? Did you experience bullying, for example?
I've never experienced bullying, I was more of a little asshole and I got into a lot of fights. Even now I keep fighting actually. It's just arranged in advance. (laughs)
And for money…
Yeah. But in our country it's not the same as here… You have to be a little tough at school there, if you don't want to be bullied. In private, however, I am completely different the cage. I'm this soft teddy bear. (laughs)
How did the idea of becoming an MMA fighter come about?
At the age of eighteen, I wanted to become one, but I didn't have the opportunity and the Czech Republic offered me what no other country had offered me. I came here, got to work with Petr "Monster" Kníže and started fighting. I didn't choose MMA, MMA chose me.
What about your parents?
Dad crashed his car when I was fifteen, and then they stopped interfering with my life. I had to work with my brother and support my family. Circumstances demanded it. I had to grow up very fast. Family is the most important thing, so I acted accordingly and my parents knew I was doing what I could, so they didn't bitch about anything.
What were you doing for work?
I did cleaning, I worked as a construction worker, anything.
Was it back in Uzbekistan?
In Uzbekistan, in Russia, here in the Czech Republic, to have some money for food. It is not easy to make a living today. Especially if you're a foreigner.
What did your fellow construction workers say when they heard you wanted to be a famous professional MMA fighter? And what did they say when you succeeded?
The guys from Uzbekistan said it wouldn't work out and they laughed at me when I said I would make a living from the sport. But look where they are now, and where I am...
Are you in touch with them?
Are they fans?
Some of them are, some aren't. it looks like they're fans, but you never know what they really think. A lot of people are fake and envious. Not saying it's everyone, but a lot of them. But I have no problems with anyone. Let everyone do what they want. My approach is that I treat people the way I want them to treat me. I'm not doing anything to anyone and I expect everyone to leave me alone.
You are a foreigner and Czechs are often xenophobic. Did you encounter any insults?
I did. Someone chats me up on social media, asks me why I'm raising two flags, that I'm not Czech. Others bitch at them that they should respect that I represent the Czech Republic. I respect what the Czech Republic has given me, this opportunity, my wife and friends. I love Czechia and Prague, so why wouldn't I raise the Czech flag? I think it would be disrespectful if I only raised the Uzbek flag, even though some people from Uzbekistan are write to me asking why I raise the Czech flag. I can't please everyone. (smile)
You have a Czech partner. When will you get married?
Marrying for papers is not the point, in my opinion. I enjoy life, I consider her my wife, my baby's mother. Papers are not important. What matters is what you have in your heart.
What is the situation with coronavirus in Uzbekistan?
We still have quarantine. There are 35 millions of us, so it's a little harder than it is here, but they can handle it. We all had a hard time, here and there and everywhere else. But we have to do it together. Through social media I urged everyone to follow the quarantine and stay home, because people in our country do not follow rules very often. So I'm wondering how long it will take there to get it right.
And your parents are dealing with it?
My parents are fine. They have a two-storey apartment, I take care of them, they have everything they may want and need. I worked long hours to take care of my parents to let them have everything they wanted.
And what does your brother do?
My brother takes care of my business.
Is he here too?
No, he's in Uzbekistan. And don't ask me what kind of business it is, I have to have some secrets too. But don't worry, it's not illegal. (laugh)
Your parents haven't seen their granddaughter yet.
They saw her on the phone. We are waiting for the borders to open, then they will definitely come.
And when will you go there with Monča?
When the little one grows up a little. I bought a luxury apartment there on the nineteenth floor, it was one of my dreams. When I finish the renovations and the nursery little one, we can go. I am looking forward to it so much.
Several matches have been canceled due to coronavirus. What's in store for you now for the next match?
Something has started up on social media, it looks like I'm going to fight an Englishman, but until the contract is signed, I'm not saying anything.
How many matches do you have per year?
I had six matches last year. I think I will have at least three to four this year.
Isn't that too few matches?
It's not too few, someone can be injured. When there's many in a row, you are more prone to injuries. You have to be properly prepared and it takes a long time. So it's a question of how many is too few or too many for whom, everyone views it differently. For some it is enough to prepare for a month, for some it's three, but I know that I do not want to go into a match without being sufficiently prepared, that's almost a guaranteed loss. And no one wants to lose.
What about injuries? Did you have some really serious ones?
I had a broken collarbone. But otherwise nothing serious. I don't even count bruises, black eyes, and torn muscles into it anymore.
I did an interview with Monika before the little one was even born. She talked about what it's like for her when she sees her husband "getting his ass handed to him"…
I don't get my ass handed to me much, so it's fine. But I get it, she loves me. I couldn't imagine my girlfriend fighting. I don't like that for girls.
Don't you like MMA fighters?
MMA fighters are great, sometimes they end up having better matches than guys, but it's not a girl thing, no offense.
Monika is a singer, how is your singing?
Everyone says they can sing, but I'd rather not. (laugh)
I also talked to Monika about jealousy, how jealous are you?
It's cool. There are a lot of guys around her, a lot of girls around me. We both understand that, but we know who we are waiting for at home in the evening.
Are you jealous of men around her?
I'm not jealous, I trust her. Trust is a must, without it no relationship can exist.
Do you have friends among the other fighters? Do you tend to go out drinking beer together?
I don't drink beer, but we're friends, sometimes we go out to eat. I'm friends with everyone.
What is your biggest personal dream?
To have a beautiful family. I have a daughter, maybe I'd like one more or a boy, as long as it's a healthy child. To have happy parents who are healthy, happy and have everything they need. The same for my kids. I want to give my family the life they deserve and the one I didn't have. Just taking care of the family. That is my dream and my goal.
That's why I have to fight and win. I also want to take care of Monika, even though she is independent. Aside from parents and children, also friends. When I had nothing, they helped me. When I went to Albert with a hundred crowns and had nothing to eat and they helped me. So I want to return the favor somehow.