The Severe Spotlight: Javid Basharat

The UFC in recent months has rightly come under scrutiny for its matchmaking. Namely Fight Night cards, but also some Pay-Per-View cards. The criticism is that either the fighters are not “UFC calibre” or that the cards are drastically top heavy. Overall, it seems that the criteria for “good” matchmaking have changed, and there is a plethora of variables as to why that is. This card, however, was full of fantastic matchups.

The night started with a comeback flying knee, a standing TKO, a comeback guillotine choke and then two dominant grappling displays. One from Miranda Maverick and the other Damon Jackson. The Apex was vocal, and rightly so – the night was building momentum. The next three fights found their way to the judges, but certainly didn’t lack excitement. JJ Aldrich looked fantastic in a shutout of Gillian Robertson. Matthew Semelsberger and AJ Fletcher proved, once again, that the new era of fighters is full of promise. Alex Periera opened the main card by working through a tough, game Bruno Silva who brought all the ammo clips he could find to The Apex.

Drew Dober and Terrance McKinney put on 3 minutes of fighting that is up there with Paul Daley and Nick Diaz levels of excitement, jeopardy and octane. This article won’t cover the details, but if Severe MMA bring in Round of The Year awards, that will be in the running.

Khalil Rountree beautifully highlighted the duality of fighting. A ruthless, and violent display coupled with a rousing, emotional and vulnerable post-fight interview. A Sodiq Yusuff win rolled us to the co-main event, the coming out party for Song Yadong, who stopped Marlon Moraes in the second round in brutal fashion.

The gem of the night was Afghanistan’s own: Javid Basharat. It should be mentioned that the UFC refused to let Basharat walk to the Octagon with the flag of his native Afghanistan, and this needs to be highlighted and discussed further. The UFC are being hypocritical in their implementation of what is a political action and what is not. It is wrong for the UFC to deny Basharat the ability to walk to the cage with his flag, whilst allowing other athletes to represent their countries who are embroiled in situations themselves.

Focussing on Basharat inside the Octagon, however, was a joy to behold. Across the cage from Javid, was Trevin Jones. Jones is a heavy hitter, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and large for the weight class. From the opening bell, the immediate apparency was tension vs fluidity. Basharat sauntered across the canvas floor, every muscle relaxed other than the rectus collections of his eyes, laser focussed on Jones.

That relaxation was a large pillar of the story of the fight. In the first minute, Basharat opened his journal and began to make reads. Distance changes, shoulder rolls, hip feints, stance switches, short non-committal leg kicks. With immediate responses logged, Basharat began to increase the complexity of questions being answered, jabs, slip counters and body kicks.

For a fighter making his UFC debut proper at 11-0, the cerebral nature to his footwork, to his feint game and to his ability to direct his man into strikes he wants to land. With 2:46 left in round one, there is a good example of this. Basharat is cutting the cage to back Jones to the fence, he enters into the pocket with a exaggeration to his left side, offering the right side as Jones’ exit, he lingers his left hand in the pocket, as a barrier. Jones doesn’t take the bait right away, so Basharat bounces out and then halfway back in, Jones exits to his right and is rewarded with a head kick. Brilliant.

He was not untouchable in the fifteen minutes. Jones did a good job at times of attempting to disrupt the rhythm and land with big shots, which is something Javid will need to take away and work on. However the Afghan native did an excellent job of always being on the way out, taking the sting of the shots instead of being clipped walking in. As soon as he had left, the pressure footwork was back on, smothering Jones with that pressure.

If you’re fighting a power striker, using a variety to your attacks and footwork is a fantastic way to root them, and when rooted the application of their power becomes more obvious, and thus easier to avoid. That was the most supremely impressive thing to me in this debut bow, variety, fluidity and calm.

At the end of the fight, Basharat ensured to give Jones the time on the mic to honour a friend who recently passed away. He did not need to do that, but it speaks to the character of the man and is at its best, an attest to the fibres of the athletes who compete.

Javid Basharat is an interesting addition to the 135lb roster, look out for him in the coming months.