Farid Basharat may not believe in bad luck, but the weeks leading up to his fight on the UFC’s Contender Series likely had him questioning if there was a dark cloud hanging over his head.
Originally signed to debut on Contender Series this past July, Basharat was pulled from his scheduled appearance after his opponent William Souza failed to make weight and the bout was scrapped. He was then rescheduled for a new date five weeks later in September with a new opponent in Allan Begosso.
With two weeks left until the fight, Basharat’s biggest concern at the time was getting back down to the bantamweight limit — but his worries multiplied exponentially after he suffered an injury during a training session.
“That was such a crazy camp,” Basharat told MMA Fighting. “Long story short, it was my first sparring session back after my last fight got cancelled. Because I had a multitude of different issues — a chest infection, and I couldn’t spar for a while. And then on my first spar back, it was that spar — I was doing great, it’s the first round and I get taken down, and as I post out, my arm just locks up completely and just cracks.
“The tendon tore off the bone completely. Straight away, I knew something was off. I felt pain before, but this was different. I couldn’t move my arm at all. My elbow ballooned up.”
When the injury occurred, Basharat knew it was serious, but he also refused to let it stop him from getting ready for his fight with a potential UFC contract on the line.
“Not for a second did I think I was going to pull out of the fight,” Basharat said. “I was worried about how I’m going to make weight. I put my arm inside my shorts and I just started running on the treadmill straight after I got injured.
“That’s all mindset. There was no way in hell I was going to get rejected from achieving my goal, from achieving my dream of getting that contract. As soon as I got injured, Javid [Basharat], my brother, told me go get ice straight away. We were in Xtreme Couture, he brought me ice and he said let’s go to the [UFC Performance Institute] and maybe somebody can check it out over there. I said, ‘OK, let me just get my weight down first.’ I got on the treadmill for an hour, ran, and then I went to the P.I. to check it out.”
Basharat avoided going to the doctor because as much as he knew something was really wrong with his elbow, he didn’t want to get a diagnosis that might force him to delay his fight on Contender Series.
Once the swelling subsided, he was able to get back into training again, but he was basically doing everything with only one arm.
“The next couple of weeks was literally just me making weight,” Basharat said. “Icing my arm and making weight. Icing my arm and jogging. Icing my arm and bicycle. Fight day, I had to do a two-hour warmup just because I was so sore. I didn’t grapple, I didn’t hit pads. The first time I actually hit a pad or hit a target was in the warmup for that Contender Series fight.
“I did a crazy long warmup, and then even in Round 1, it was still sore. Towards the end of Round 1 and into Round 2, adrenaline had kicked in and I wasn’t feeling much.”
Basharat ultimately secured a unanimous decision win in the fight, and just as he had hoped, the reward was his UFC contract.
Afterward, Basharat immediately shifted his attention towards his brother Javid, who was already competing in the UFC with his next fight booked just a few days later. It was during that training session on Wednesday — just 24 hours after his own fight — that Basharat began to realize the severity of his injury.
“I fought on Tuesday, Javid fought on Saturday,” Basharat said. “I was moving around with Javid — and this is funny actually, it was Wednesday and Javid was doing his stuff in the cage at the P.I. Then he kind of takes me down and I could have posted out but I just fell on my back.
“He goes, ‘Stop being such a wuss, give me a proper fight!’ I was like, ‘Bro, I’m serious, my arm is done. I would if I could but my arm is just giving out, it’s too painful.’ He goes, ‘No, you’re just being a wuss!’ Then a couple of weeks later, I get an MRI. My MCL ligament in my elbow was completely torn off the bone. So I had to get surgery as soon as possible. The doctors were even shocked how I fought with that injury.”
While it obviously wasn’t the best set of circumstances to earn his UFC contract, Basharat refused to bow out of his fight — and the gamble still paid off.
He then spent the next two months rehabbing and recovering from the elbow surgery as he anxiously awaited the opportunity to actually compete in the UFC.
Now as he prepares to debut at UFC 285, Basharat is finally healthy with a desire to show what he’s capable of with two arms this time around.
“This camp went almost shockingly well,” Basharat said. “When camp goes this well, you almost start to get nervous, like, why is it going so well? But this camp has just been incredible. Elbow feels amazing. The rest of my body feels strong. The weight cut’s been perfect.
“I came back better. I came back from the surgery better, because during my time of recovery, I was very diligent, I was very disciplined. I non-stop watched footage. I watched my brother train. I was part of his camp, not physically, but more from a coaching point of view. I remained a student and I came back much improved.”