… hopes to achieve UFC dreamBy Daniel HaynesFIGHTING out of Kai’s Next Level MMA Gym in Queens, New York, one man is looking to put Guyana on the world stage by kicking and punching his way into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). That man is 35-year-old Suraj Persaud, who to this date has fought two registered amateur fights, won one and lost one.Suraj Persaud registers a punch during the bout.Persaud was initially a Shotokan Karate student who dreamed of following in the footsteps of his uncle and cousin, to become a black belt. However, the Guyanese born-and-bred Persaud migrated to the United States and upon not being able to find a Shotokan school, picked up Brazilian JuJitsu.From there the transition to Muay thai (another style of fighting) was almost automatic and quite quickly, Persaud was in the gym, training to be a Mixed Martial Artist.According to the fighter, the difference between Traditional Karate and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) was huge.“With traditional karate, the focus is on scoring points through single hits, while with MMA, it is more of a controlled street fight and wherever the fight goes we have to go as well,” stated Persuad.“I’m now 35, and I’ve only been practising Muay thai for 1 year, and some of the guys out here have been training for the ‘UFC all their lives.”When asked about the level of commitment required in addition to balancing the life and requirements of the sport, he was quick to answer.“Once my personal life is taken care of before 6 pm I’m good. I usually spend the minimum of three hours in the gym six days a week,” he stated. “On Fridays I try to spend 6 hours training,” he added.Despite the challenges he is facing especially with the daunting reality of his age, Persaud is still optimistic about getting to the UFC.“The process to get to the UFC isn’t an easy one. You have to be discovered through fighting at your local gym, and it is there your record comes into play. The better your record, the more UFC scouts notice you and you get your opportunity.”Having a 1-1 record on the amateur circuit is the beginning of the process for Persaud who cited overconfidence as the reason for his loss.“The fight I lost was a paid fight, meaning persons paid to see it, and I knocked down my opponent three times, and I got cocky and when I rushed in for the kill he took advantage.”He added that the referee put a stop to the fight due to the fact of not taking unnecessary risks at the amateur level. His next fight, however, will be in December, where he will be required to get to 145 pounds.He is hoping that at this bout, he can show what he is capable of doing.