28 Sept 2023
Sabian 'Uberhuman' Muhammad's Journey to Victory
28th September 2023
Hearing Coach X Deaf Fighter Round 2
It’s a bit late but as they say, ‘It’s better late than never’.
For the past 2 years now, I have been working with Sabian Muhammad and we have been on such an amazing journey both as individuals and as brothers in arms. Although we have known each other for over a decade now, in 2021, Sabian reached out to me to train him for his first White Collar fight.
He did not want to go through the training camp that the White Collar Fight Club offered for one simple reason. He's a deaf fighter, so he didn’t feel as comfortable training in a group setting as he felt he needed a trainer who could adapt to his needs as a deaf person. It was an absolute honour to know that I was the person from the hearing world he put his trust in to guide him through his first Muay Thai fight.
On September 15th, I had the pleasure of cornering Sabian ‘Uberhuman’ Muhammad at his White Collar Fight Club bout at the London Troxy. This was our second Muay Thai bout venture as a duo and we came out on top on our second attempt.
Following the fight, we sat down to talk about Sabian's second fight and find out what was going through his head this time around.
Friendly note: you may notice that Sabian refers to me as Rado.
Triumph in the Spotlight
1. How did it feel to come out on top? - I asked Sabian, and his eyes lit up with pride.
Sabian: Wow, what a feeling! It felt great to be able to flex my skills and submit my opponent in front of my family and friends. Moreso, it felt great to come good on your demand that I have no more losses in my fights.
Also, I’m not sure if there are many other deaf fighters in the Muay Thai scene but it felt great to be the only deaf fighter on the night and make a terrifyingly good show of myself and represent the deaf community in combat sports.
Andre/Rado: To be fair, I am not aware of any other deaf fighters on the scene, you might be the first. But one thing I can say is that those in the deaf community will be proud of you once they know your story.
Lessons Learned and Applied
2. What differences did you feel/make between this and the last fight? Sabian confessed a significant shift in his approach after his last bout.
Sabian: Interestingly enough, I didn’t attend as many technical training sessions as I should have, instead, I attended more sparring sessions to prepare myself and force myself to get used to getting hit. I sparred with a good few heavy hitters and pro fighters so I had to take in the lessons and improve on the go or else I’d get pummelled!
My biggest enemies in my first fight were my mind and my ego. That is, I was too caught up in my mind and overthinking everything. So in my fight, I couldn’t relax or find my rhythm. I also overestimated myself due to my past martial arts experiences so I wasn’t holding my defence properly as I should have been and kept dropping my hands which meant I kept getting caught by my opponent's strikes. Even more than that, getting hit and not returning the strikes was incredibly frustrating and I began to lose composure.
In this fight, I was a lot more relaxed, probably because after my first fight, I’d been relatively humbled. Fair to say, my ego took a battering and my ribs were broken so alongside 4 months out to recover, I damn near didn’t even return to Muay Thai at all! It took me two years to finally get over the dark phase that ensued.
So in this fight, I took the approach of taking all that I learned from my first fight and all that I’d gathered from sparring fighters of all levels in the lead up. This helped me find my own level and fight at that level come fight night.
Another probably more important thing to mention is the fact that I’m deaf and in my first fight me and Rado didn’t quite have an established way of communicating whilst I’m fighting. So it was pretty overwhelming to be in that situation because once I take my hearing aid out, I can’t hear a damn thing :). This time we developed some signals to communicate strategy and that made a world of difference.
Andre/Rado: We've all been there in regards to letting our ego take over but losing is a humbling experience that I have also felt and it can bring you to some dark places if you let it consume you. It sets a different kind of flame in your belly. Also, our communication this time was on point and it made a world of difference. I'm excited for the next one but I think an Interclub will be better for you.
The Mental Game
3. How did you prepare yourself mentally?
Sabian: Mentally, I had to learn to draw out the aggressive side of myself. That meant visualising my fight and remembering to remain calm no matter what was thrown at me.
My coach and I already decided that I was going to win and what I needed to do was manifest it.
I was pretty nervous as the right got closer but I managed to reframe it from “being nervous” to “damn I’m bloody excited!”, which I was.
Andre/Rado: Well, what can I say, Muay Thai isn't just about the physical; it's also about mental strength. The ability to overcome yourself and adapt is key in the combat sports game.
Trusting the Game Plan
4. Why do you think the result this time was different?
Sabian: I think this time the result was different because I followed the game plan to perfection. Training aside, the fact that Rado and I had established a better way to overcome my deafness and communicate meant that I could perform with more confidence and switch it up when I needed to.
As a result, I fought with tons more aggression in this fight, I reckon if I had this aggression in my first fight I would’ve won that fight too!
Andre/Rado: Thinking back to it, when I gave you the signal, the aggressor meter went all the way up. You were on absolute smoke! But I could tell from weeks ago you were mentally tuned in this time, so I knew you were going to smash it.
Personal Triumph and Growth
5. What did this mean to you?
This fight was more of a personal battle between my current and past self, unfortunately, my opponent was just collateral damage. I needed to exorcise demons from my last fight and it was a job well done.
I also wanted to see the range of my strength and striking ability. I’ve always held myself back from unleashing my strength and power and I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t do the same thing this time- so it was cathartic in that way.
In the grand scheme of things, it is just another step in my Muay Thai adventure which is restarting at the ripe age of 35 years old.
Andre/Rado: The past is a daunting place but I am glad you've overcome some of life's trials to get to where you are today. Your performance was amazing and you should be proud of yourself more than anything. I always forget you're a few years older than me but grab it while the time is ripe my friend, fights are only going to get harder from here on out.
Sabian's journey to victory is a testament to the power of determination, self-improvement, and overcoming obstacles. I hope his story inspires you to push your limits and achieve greatness in your own endeavours. As Sabian continues to evolve as a fighter, and a deaf fighter at that I can't wait to see what adventure we go on next.