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Maged Hammo Is Going To Put On A Show

Unified MMA Champion Maged Hammo Believes He Needs To Deliver The Most Entertaining Performance Of His Career At Unified MMA 52.

There is a Catch-22 that many regional champions encounter once they’ve secured their footing atop their respective divisions: while they’re trying to garner the victories and highlight reel finishes that will carry them to the next level, available opponents with the kind of name value and cache to help them do just that are few and far between.

Unified MMA featherweight champion Maged Hammo is currently stuck in that potentially challenging position, but has developed a sound way of dealing with the problem for now.

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“Once you get to a certain level, it’s very hard to find opponents of that caliber, and when it gets there, I leave it in my coach’s hands,” said Hammo, who faces off with John Nguyen in the main event of Unified MMA 52 at BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta and airing exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS on Friday. “He deals with it and says, ‘We’re gonna train for this guy; we’re gonna beat this guy. I don’t care what his record is — it will help you develop,’ and that’s what we’re here for, right?”

While Hammo has posted three straight stoppage victories and wins in five of his last six outings, including a first-round submission win over previously undefeated challenger Justin Basra in his last title defense, Nguyen comes into Friday’s main event sporting a 5-3 record and a 1-1- mark inside the Unified MMA cage.

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The champion explained that Nguyen had offered to face him earlier in his career, with Hammo politely declining and suggesting the Calgary native collect a few more victories before getting back to him. But now, with options limited, the surging 33-year-old titleholder is focused on chasing records and adding to his resume by stepping in with whomever is available.

It’s a mature mindset and approach that fits alongside everything else in Hammo’s career.

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A pro since 2010, his record stood at 5-4 following consecutive losses to Ryan Hall and Owen Carr in August 2013 and February 2014, respectively. He was grinding out fights and learning with each appearance, but truly meaningful success and greater opportunities weren’t exactly front of mind.

But Hammo has gone 8-2-1 since, with his losses coming to fellow Canadian standouts Jesse Arnett and Alex Morgan, and he’s 4-1 over his last five following a major knee injury and missing time like everyone else on the regional circuit as a result of COVID-19.

And now, armed with three straight stoppage victories, a pair of successful title defenses, and a little bit of buzz, the Lethbridge-based titleholder is really starting to feel like he’s putting all the pieces together.

“I was literally just thinking that today, about all the stuff I’ve been through, thinking, ‘Maybe all the stuff I’ve been through I had to live through in order to achieve what I’ve achieved now,’” he said with a laugh when asked about the winding road that has carried him to the top of the Unified MMA featherweight division and another championship fight on Friday. “Now I’m on the right path, and it’s because of those things that my progression has come this far.

“I’m feeling great; I’ve never felt this good before,” he added. “I’ve been doing a lot of mental training, which is helping me develop in some areas where I wasn’t (focused on before). It’s really nice in that sense. Training lots, lots of great recovery — everything feels perfect; everything feels dialed in just right.

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“I’m doing a lot of meditation and a lot of visualizing and stuff like that,” Hammo responded when asked about the type of mental training he’s added to his daily routine. “I think it’s a big key in this game — seeing what you’re going for and then achieving that because it gives you that self-esteem boost every time you achieve it.

“You visualize it, you’re chasing it, and you get it just how you visualized it, and it pumps you up a lot.”

Right now, there are two things Hammo is visualizing most — one long-term and one short-term goal.

“Shane Campbell has 10 belts — he’s defended his belts 10 times — so I’m going for 11 before I jump somewhere else,” he said with a laugh, setting his sights on “Shaolin” and the tremendous record of success he’s had inside the Unified MMA cage. “That feels like a pretty good milestone to reach.

As for the short-term goal, that one involves making a statement against Nguyen to commemorate more than two years atop the division and continue to show that he’s the top featherweight on the Canadian regional scene.

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“I’m going to do something special this one,” he said with a smile. “All those other ones have just kept pushing me, but this one feels special to me. I want to showcase some stuff that I’ve learned, that I’ve developed; I want to put on a good show in this one.

“The other ones, I was just trying to win the fights, but this one, I’m gonna do a little showboating and show some of the stuff I’ve been working on.”

And what exactly does that entail?

“Just don’t leave the first round, that’s all.”