Almighty Fighting Championship returns to Houghton le Spring for Almighty FC 26 on June 25th, and newly crowned flyweight champion Shaj Haque is adamant the belt stays tight to him.
Shaj Haque attained the Almighty FC flyweight championship belt in the promotion’s last trip to the Rainton Arena in a veteran-like display over Igor Wojtas. The train keeps rolling, and Haque looks to make the first defence of his title against challenger Elliott Hoye.
The main event clash wouldn’t look out of place on a current Cage Warriors card. Ahead of the event, we had the opportunity to speak with Haque before Saturday night. See his full thoughts below.
Interview With Shaj Haque
Firstly, I want to begin by asking what’s in the water at ACE MMA? The gym is going from strength to strength. With that being said, how do you find the balance to train as a professional as well as a coach your guys to attain titles on the regional circuit? Many fighters from the gym I have spoken with state they look up to you and that you’re their role model. How does that make you feel?
It feels great. It’s all hard work both from myself and the guys. It’s crazy. This year we are calling it strap season. We have already had 4 title fights. I will be defending mine this week, then Shawon his AFC belt in Aug and UKFC belt later, and Sami will surely be fighting for a title soon too, and I’m sure Aaron will be back in the mix in no time. We also have a group of young talent coming through. It’s exciting times.
I don’t talk about it much as I am focused on fights, but I will be a recognised coach in a few years. I’ve always had the ambition to be an elite coach, and I feel like I am just getting started in this area. Coaching and training myself can be a challenge at times and was more so when the lads were all young teens, but now they are adults and are great training partners for me and also help with the beginners coming through. They’ve gotten so good that it’s pushed me to get better to keep up, and I think I have found a great balance, and the result is showing.
It’s fight week, somewhere where I feel you love. All the hard work is done, and it’s nearly gone time. How’s the body and mind ahead of your first title defence?
It’s a great fight week. I train less so have more time to focus on the fight, and with each day, I can feel my body recovering and peaking.
Winning Almighty Gold
You won the Almighty FC flyweight championship on Almighty’s last trip to Houghton le Spring in front of a crowd filled with your friends and family. Can you just sum up what that experience was like having so many shows you love and support?
It was fantastic. I’ve learnt to appreciate that the fighting career is short and that you have to enjoy every moment while it lasts. I was very grateful to have the opportunity to fight for the belt in the North East and even more grateful for all my friends and family who came to support me that night.
Your fight with Igor was flawless. You showcased your skill-set in a number of departments. However, fighters are always their biggest critics. Was there anything you weren’t happy with when watching the fight back? Anything you feel you could have done differently?
I think the fight went well, pretty much how I predicted it would. I felt I started a little slower than usual, but once I found my rhythm, it was all one way.
Before the fight with Igor Wojtas, you did mention you wanted to gain another opportunity to compete in Cage Warriors. Were there any talks with Cage Warriors afterwards, and is that still the goal leading into the Saturday night fight with Elliot Hoye?
The goal I have is to be ranked no1, have a major World Title or compete in the UFC. It’s pretty clear I am better than Sam Creasey, who is CW World Champion. He doesn’t have the gas tank to go three rounds with me, never mind 5. I would be the first to win a world title via cardiac arrest. He’s actually a nice guy, but it’s just frustrating when he has a title that belongs to me.
Shaj Haque Talks Elliott Hoye
As mentioned, your challenger is Elliot Hoye. He recently posted on Instagram that he is prepared to come into your home town and snatch that belt from you and that this fight was two years in the making after he defeated your brother. Was Elliot Hoye someone that has been on your radar as a potential opponent, and how do you view him as a fellow competitor?
Yeah, Elliot is a respectable opponent. We were meant to fight a few times now but cancelled for multiple reasons. I feel a few years ago, he had a better chance. Now I am in a new zone, a new mindset. I feel he has spent a lot of time watching me, but I have spent that time improving myself. He had better come with something special to take my belt.
Your fight with Igor Wojtas was worth the ticket money alone for the last trip to Houghton le Springs. Can Almighty attendees expect a similar main event on Saturday night? Tell us why we should stay seated during Shaj Haque and Elliot Hoye?
I guess the best selling point of this fight is that he defended his belt against my brother on his home turf a few years ago. Now, he’s fighting me for my belt on my home turf. He’s going to have to bring something special to take that belt from me.
Lastly, can we get an official fight prediction? How does Shaj Haque’s first title defence unfold?
Round 1 – he will be full of confidence, thinking he’s fighting an old veteran, will try a pressure style, probably throw some front kicks, try to catch me with a knee and work hard for a takedown.
Round 2 – realise that the plan isn’t quite working, and this old veteran has a lot of fight left in him.
Round 3 – damn, there are still two more rounds left. Maybe this guy is not past it.
Round 4 – fatiguing, hurt and regretting the long trip.
Round 5 – finished.
Featured image credits to DN4 Photography
Almighty FC 26 Tickets can be purchased following the link: Tickets / Almighty Fighting Championship (almightyfc.com)