You know that guy who sits on the couch, watches sports and says he can do that better than the professional athlete they’re watching on TV yet never manages to get off the couch?
Ashiek Ajim fancies himself as that dude — except for one key difference: He did stand up and pursue an athletic career.
“I'm the fan who decided I’m going to get good at a sport that I like, and I'm going to try to be the best at it,” Ajim said. “So I'm not just coaching from the couch or anything like that. I'm actually going out there and trying to be the best at a sport that I watch.”
That viewing began in 2008 with Season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter” when he was 14. Years later, it led the Queens-raised Ajim to Long Island MMA in Farmingdale, a 7-1 amateur record, a 5-1 pro record and the CES bantamweight title.
Ajim’s career trajectory also figures to begin trending toward the bigger promotions such as the UFC, Bellator or the PFL. It’s a future one of his coaches at LIMMA knows a thing or two about.
“Ashiek is an extremely disciplined and dedicated fighter. He spends all day and night in the gym trying to improve and help others improve," said Ryan LaFlare, a retired welterweight who went 7-3 in the UFC and 14-3 overall. "The way he handles pressure reminds me of a modern Gegard Mousasi. Nobody is going to get in his head or psych him out. The way he fights is similar to Mousasi, too. Ashiek is very well-rounded. He can handle himself in all aspects of MMA."
Gym: Long Island MMA
Next fight: TBD
Ajim’s last four wins all ended by knockout or TKO in the first round. His last two fights lasted a social-media friendly 34 seconds and 30 seconds, respectively.
“I do so want that cage time,” Ajim said, “but I'll take the quick wins.”
Quick wins attract attention in this sport. From fans, from promoters. Networking doesn’t hurt either. Ajim recently trained at Sanford MMA in Florida, sparring with Amanda Nunes as she prepares to try to reclaim her bantamweight title from Julianna Pena at UFC 277 on July 30.
Ajim also is represented by Dominance MMA, one of the leading agencies in the sport. Ajim said there has been some chatter about perhaps getting a fight on Dana White’s Contender Series later this season, a show where fighters can earn a contract by impressing the UFC president.
“If I can get a fight lined up, regardless of what it is, Contender Series or another promotion,” Ajim said, “if I can get something lined up for like the end of August that would be ideal for me.”