I’m a person that truly believes that the eyes are the mirror to the soul. Naturally I was extremely excited to meet and interview current light heavyweight champion, Artem Vakhitov. I wanted to catch a glimpse of what his opponents see in their staredowns, what makes him tick. Fortunately, prior to the grand slam Glory 51 I had that opportunity to meet and speak with him. If nothing else I can say, he is more than meets the eye.
Artem Vakhitov, like many practitioners of the sport began at an early age, beginning with karate at age six and later switching to muay thai after his family moved to a new city. Since that time, it has been a straight shot to the top. Vakhitov has not only dominated the sport in his home in Russia but set course internationally by capturing and maintaining the light heavyweight title in Glory. In Glory with an 8-1-0 record, his path has not been without challenges but through them all he has persevered. Currently, Vakhitov is focused on rehabbing his hand that has undergone surgery. This however is not a deterrent. His plan is to get healthy and get back in the ring and move forward to bigger and better things.
Each fighter is unique in his/her own right but Vakhitov’s preparation for fights sets him apart. Aside from the fact that he constantly trains, Vakhitov stated, “ I don’t train specifically for an opponent, I train for a fight.” This philosophy makes him unique in that he doesn’t get caught up in the nuances of a specific fighter, he seeks an overall preparedness, he readies himself for anything that could possibly happen, not just a particular fighter’s know arsenal of weapons. This style is cannot be without merit as it has led him to high honors in IFMA, Russian Muay Thai Cup, World Combat Games, WMC and Glory.
One thing I can honestly say I did not see in the eyes of Artem Vakhitov was fear. He’s faced the best and brightest in his division, some opponents more than once – Cavalari – and he’s ready to move on to bigger and better fish. Vakhitov is not afraid to make his ambitions clear for 2018, a shot at Rico. He currently walks around at 95-96kg and feels that an additional 4-5kg would not be a stretch or impediment to his speed and strength. With his health intact, Vakhitov feels he would be ready for Rico, Badr or anyone in the heavyweight division. He would not be opposed to a 4 or 8 man tournament winner take it all!
Vakhitov has fought the best and continues to be willing to answer the call to meet the best in his current or the heavyweight division. He has a maturity that transcends his years and an intellect in the ring that can only grow. Vakhitov has fought through injury and with the realization that there is more to come in life after the ring, but right now his focus is the ring. We can only wait to see what comes next.
Vakhitov is humble, appreciative of the support from his family and friends and he is still hungry, ending the interview by encouraging all to continue watching and vowing to do his best and continue to grow.
If eyes are the mirror to the soul, the fact that I saw calm, intellect, and determination are spot on as that definitely describes Vakhitov.