In his last two fights, Kamal Shalorus fought as somebody else. It wasn’t him in there, he said, because, mentally, he was in a different place.
The former UFC lightweight hit a skid because of money problems — a lack of money, specifically — and it reflected in his losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rafael dos Anjos.
“I didn’t even try,” Shalorus told GRACIEMAG.com. “I was trying to get out of the cage as soon as I could. I gave up.”
But that was then.
Reinvented, “The Prince of Persia” resolved his financial troubles by moving out of the expensive environment of Southern California and moving to Virginia, where he teaches wrestling and MMA to children at an after-school program. He also found time to get his contractor license, a useful document in his new cash cow of flipping houses.
Both the house-flipping and teaching have paid off in a way that is more than the income they bring him. Like fighting, the new ventures provide him a passion that relieve the stresses of career placement. Being able to teach kids, specifically, is an outstanding feeling, he said.
“It’s amazing. I love it,” he said of his time mentoring and instructing kids from 5 to 12 years of age. “These kids are so powerful and they have great energy. They’re very smart and learning fast. They’re so excited in my wrestling class.”
The children love his class so much, Shalorus explained, that instructors in other classes for different martial arts end up having close to no students because they mostly attend his class.
Tough spot for the new guy on the coaching staff.
“They hate me,” he said, jokingly, when talking about his relationships with the other coaches. “Some kids are supposed to go to different classes, like karate, yoga, different programs. They don’t show up there; they come to my class. Then other classes are empty.”
The days of money troubles are now behind Shalorus. With the drama in his rearview mirror, the Iranian fighter looks towards a fight at One FC 9: Rise to Power, where he’ll battle Eduard Folayang.
The One FC bout, while not necessarily for the money, will provide Shalorus an opportunity to gain back something he said he lost while in the UFC: His pride.
“I need to get my pride back, brother,” Shalorus said, reflecting on his previous skid. “My pride was taken away. I needed to get it back — I needed a fight. Losing or winning doesn’t matter, but I need to put my 100 percent into a fight to show my skill. I didn’t (do that in the recent fights). That’s why I want to fight.”
The chance of collecting his pride is just over the horizon, as the Folayang fight will take place on Friday, May 31, in the Philippines. It’s a match that Shalorus feels is one he’ll win on the ground. Standing up with Folayang, a fighter Shalorus described as a “tough striker,” isn’t at all in the game plan.
The ground-and-pound, after all, is an art form to Shalorus, and he plans on getting his money, as well as his pride, in the gallery he’ll put on at One FC this Friday.
“Some people are musicians, some are painters, some make nice art. This is my art, this is my passion: Fighting,” he said. “I’m just going to play my symphony, enjoy and fight.”