Nasrat Haqparast agrees with the many German MMA fans who believe that they need a national star to continue to stimulate the growth of MMA in the country.
It was evident how much Haqparast meant to the German fans when he took a decision win over Marc Diakiese in his hometown of Hamburg last year. Cornered by the legendary Firas Zahabi, who spoke about his fighter’s win later that night, Zahabi told the gathered media that Haqparast has the potential to be a future UFC champion.
Casting his mind back to his fight with Diakiese, Haqparast revealed that it wasn’t the first time Zahabi had told him that he capable of clinching UFC gold.
“Honestly, I’ve heard that a lot from him,” Haqparast told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“Firas is a guy that doesn’t compliment a lot of guys too much; he doesn’t want to make people cocky. He tells me a lot that, ‘You’re going to be a world champion, just stick to the plan that we’re doing now,’ because he knows how I live my life. He sees the work and dedication through my lifestyle and with his knowledge from building fighters like Georges St-Pierre, I think we can repeat it.”
Haqparast is relishing the thoughts of facing Joaquim Silva this weekend at UFC on ESPN 5 in Newark, New Jersey, due to the Brazilian’s willingness to exchange with opponents.
“Stylistically it’s a really nice matchup,” he said. “Silva is brawler and he’s always coming forward and that’s important for me. In my first UFC fight, the guy didn’t want to fight; he pulled guard. I like guys who come forward and like to bang it out. Silva is experienced and he has a good record in the UFC. I don’t underestimate him—everybody in the UFC is dangerous, everyone is good—but I know we trained harder and better than him. I think it’s going to be bonus for me next week.”
If he continues with his winning ways, Haqparast believes he can main event a UFC card in Germany and become the star that nation needs.
“After one or two more fights they should put me as the main event in Germany. First of all, my fighting style—if I was a lay and pray guy nobody would be excited — but I’m a good striker. In Germany, the market is there but we don’t have a star. We just need to make more action and then bring the UFC to Hamburg, Germany next year. For sure, [I can be the next German star], but I don’t think about things like that. I think about my fighting style and that’s what makes you a star, right?”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Nasrat Haqparast interview begins at 43:00.