The long road back
Short before Reza would start serving time, he was at the O2 Arena in London to watch his friend Alexander Gustafsson take on Jimi Manuwa. Considering the jail time awaiting him, he had a hard time to enjoy the evening. “Normally you walk around proudly, taking pictures with fans and boosting your confidence. That night I was hiding, wearing my hoodie up, and hoped that no one would spot me. The co-main event was a fight between Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson, the guy I submitted less than a year earlier in Globen Arena. I got to see the ref lifting Johnson’s hand when he was declared the winner, and how the crowd cheered him. And there I was, hiding like a rat, waiting to be locked up in a few days. I was certain that my career was over. That the last chapter of my book had been written. The anxiety felt like a punch in the face!”
"I'M NOT PERFECT, BUT IF YOU ASK ME, I DON'T THINK A ROLE MODEL SHOULD BE"
If you google Reza Madadi you get more than a hundred thousand hits, and there is a lot written about him in different online forums – opinions, truths, lies, rumours and everything in between. I wonder if he has thought about the day when his children are old enough to read all of that. “It has been my greatest concern since I was convicted! Thpse thoughts ate me from inside, every day. I was even worried about what the kindergarten staff would say when they saw me. But with time I realized that my kids will grow up with me, know every little detail about me and form their own opinion about me. They will be able to tell what’s true and what’s bullshit. And of course I will have to talk to them, and explain what’s true and not. But at least I’m happy that I didn’t end up as a failure, but instead managed to turn all the negative things in my life in to something good. I’m not perfect, but if you ask me, I don’t think a role model should be.”
"IT WAS UNTHINKABLE AT THAT TIME. BUT IT WORKED OUT, EVENTUALLY!"
The 10th of June 2015, news came out that Reza Madadi once again had signed with the UFC. Four months later his comeback was a fact when he entered the octagon with Norman Parke at UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin. Even though he lost the fight by decision, no one was happier than Reza Madadi that night. To successfully come back, after having lost everything, is the absolute highlight of his career according to himself. “If someone would have told me, while I was at the bottom, that in two years I would be back in the UFC, I would never have believed it. It was unthinkable at that time. But it worked out, eventually!”
Anger towards referees and the Swedish MMA Federation
Since his comeback, ”Mad Dog” has had three fights, and the latest one was in Ericsson Globe Arena against Brazilian Joaquim Silva. After full time one judge had Reza as the winner, and two judges had Silva. The loss was hard for Reza to accept, as he considered it a robbery on his home ground. “I’ve probably watched the fight 300 times by now. I don’t mean that the judge should give me any unfair advantage, but the fact that a Swedish judge goes with the opponent in such an obvious situation, it’s incomprehensible. I was so disappointed that I lost all the motivation I had. I stayed in my apartment and didn’t get out of bed for days. It felt terrible! But, everything happens for a reason, even if you don’t know what it is. At least I know that I’m not done yet. I still have a few more fights left in me before I’m done.”
"I CALLED THE FEDERATION ABOUT THIS AFTERWARDS, BECAUSE IT'S NOT ACCEPTABLE!"
Reza chose to not sign a new deal with the UFC due to the low salary. He has instead had talks with the Russian organization ACB, who still haven’t arranged any show in Sweden. “Why would I go with the UFC who offers me 10 000 dollars for a fight, when ACB offers 3-4 times as much? They pay very well and I’ve had negotiations with them. But there are people who don’t want ACB to come to Sweden and compete on the Swedish MMA market. These people have contacted Hovet Arena and said that ACB are anti-gay and lobbied that they should not be given permission to arrange anything here. The Swedish MMA Federation is also doing their part to put a spanner in the works. First they stopped Cage Warriors from coming here, and now ACB. It’s super sad for Swedish MMA!”
”Speaking of the MMA Federation, I witnessed a mafia like thing at a Swedish MMA event recently. A great Swedish fighter was in the cage. First of all, one of the judges was her friend from the same gym. How can that be called unbiased? One of her conermen is a bigwig in the MMA Federation and the National Team. Right after the fight, he runs up to the judges to look at their score cards! One judge gets uncomfortable and tries to hide his, but another one clearly showed his. I called the Federation about this afterwards, because it’s not acceptable! Judges scoring their friends’ fights and high-ups in the Federation who try to affect the judges, totally unbelievable!”
Life and destiny
You would assume that there are things in the past that Reza would like to change, that he regrets. However, even if he certainly has felt a lot of regret, it seems like he has been able to accept and come to terms with everything that has happened, through his philosophy of life. “There is nothing in my life that I regret. All though I know how much some steps have ruined everything for me, I still don’t regret them. Those actions made me the person I am today. I’ve learned so much from my experiences, and who would I be without that?”
”To me, there is a God, and I only negotiate with him. I believe that everything that happens is meant to happen. The rice grains you eat were picked by hand somewhere on the other side of the Earth, and they were meant to end up on your plate. That’s my philosophy, and it has made my life so much easier to live, but it took me 39 years to learn. A good example is the story about the two brothers who made some money from a successful deal. Shortly thereafter their children get ill and the money they earned is used to pay the healthcare bills. One of the brothers gets angry at God for making him lose the money he just earned. The second brother is thankful to God for giving him a chance to earn money before his child got sick so that he could pay for the healthcare. So, you can see things in different ways. I believe that also the negative things that happen are meant to happen, they’re part of the plan.”
"FROM THE SUBURB FISKSÄTRA TO DRIVING AROUND A BUGATTI IN MIAMI BEACH"
To wrap up, we ask Reza who he thinks we should interview, and also how he’s planning on celebrating his 40 year birthday in June. “I’d recommend to interview Tomas (Ghassemi), my manager. Or Putte (Selman Berisha), who is also really interesting. What a life he has had! From the suburb Fisksätra to driving around a Bugatti in Miami Beach. I won’t have any 40 year birthday celebration, it’s nothing to celebrate. It’s just one step closer to the end destination, haha!”
We thank Reza Madadi for the interview and wish him good luck in the final chapter of his MMA career!