If you don’t know “Genghis” Kaan, you should.
Australian Kaan Ofli (11-2-1), a top featherweight prospect who has been fighting all across the globe, credits mixed martial arts for keeping him out of jail, or worse.
“It’s not easy out there,” Ofli told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “If you don’t have support network, you don’t have a good family, you don’t have any bloody schooling or anything behind you, life can be quite hard. I’m really thankful MMA has given me the opportunity to stick to a sport, to stay healthy, to meet amazing people, to travel. I’m blessed.”
Later, he’d put it it a little more succinctly. “I’m not competing. I’m fighting for my life.”
Olfi is coming off his biggest win yet, that saw him claim the HEX featherweight championship with a third-round submission of Jarrett Wilbraham. It was not a victory that came easy, not just because of what transpired in the cage, but what Olfi was going through outside it.
“I feel great about the performance. It doesn’t really feel like it’s been three months to be honest,” said Olfi, looking back at the late-February win. “But yeah, reflecting back on it, given the short notice, given the circumstances, I had a death in the family a few weeks before it… Considering all that that’s happened, and the way that the fight turned out, everyone was kind of saying that it was the Fight of the Year in Australia. The fact that that all kind of happened, it just puts a cherry on top, and I couldn’t be any happier.”
At the time, Ofli was helping teammates prepare for their fights while grieving simultaneously. “So I was in support mode, rather than fight mode. And a few weeks had passed by and things kind of had settled down. And that’s when Raja [Shippen] got injured, and the opportunity came up. And that’s when it just felt like destiny and felt like that was the right thing to do.”
Olfi opted to step in and replace Shippen in the HEX title fight, and the rest is history. But the Australian knew he was rolling the dice by taking the fight.
“It was a bit of a risk on my hand to take that fight, or to fight short notice, in general. The fact that I’m on a current eight fight win streak, seven finishes, I don’t think there’s anyone in Australia or New Zealand that has got my accolades,” noted Olfi. Especially given that Jarrett Wilbraham had been training with Alexander Volkanovski, helping him prepare for the Islam Makhachev fight.
Moving forward, Kaan Olfi doesn’t plan to take his foot off the gas. After making stops in Brave CF, UAE Warriors, Eternal MMA, and now HEX, he wants to stay active, and hopefully that means landing on Dana White’s Contender Series this summer. The goal is the UFC, and Olfi believes he already stacks up well against the talent there.
“I’m only 29 years old man. And I’ve been doing this for 10 years, I’ve actually been doing this as long as guys that are currently in the UFC at the moment. So when I crack the next level, that being the UFC, I don’t think that I’m going to be hanging around, in the lower divisions or the lower rankings for too long,” Olfi told us. “I believe that I’m a Top 10, Top 15 fighter already now. So in the next four years, I don’t see myself kind of slowing down.”
Watch our full interview with featherweight Kaan Olfi above.