Khatib Looks to Thrill Moncton With Win Over MacGrath
The old saying goes that there is no place like home. While there is always the comfort level of being around everything that you know and love, it is always nice to spice things up once in a while. That is what Nabil Khatib is doing as he will face Matt MacGrath at Elite 1 this Saturday in Moncton, New Brunswick. Khatib is excited about getting his first chance to fight in the Maritimes since 2006.
“It has been a while since I have been out of the Ottawa area for a fight,” says Khatib. “It is kind of disappointing that people are not bringing in people across Canada but most guys are keeping it local to have their shows. It’s an exciting opportunity to explore the different shows and different venues and I hope something more can come out of it.”
Going into the match, The Thrill faces someone who has had a similar style and path in his career. Both guys are well rounded fighters who have never been afraid to take on the toughest competition even though they do not always come out on the winning side. Their records may be close on wins and losses, but they do not show the heart, skill, and determination that each fighter brings when they step into the cage. These close similarities between MacGrath and Khatib are why it is ranked number 4 in July’s Top Maple Leaf Matchups. While trying to give a perspective on MacGrath, Khatib knows the fight will be complex.
“He is just a tough dude but I don’t know much about his skill,” says Khatib. “I know he is a tough guy but it’s hard to say. There is not much to watch from his fights. I had a few teammates who have fought him and they really couldn’t tell me much. I saw his last fight in Bellator and he threw a couple of flurries in his stand-up so there isn’t really much to tell and we will see what happens.”
While the match has a good chance to be a fight of the night candidate, you can’t help but wonder if this is an unofficial number one contendership match to face the winner of the Richard Arsenault/Ricky Goodall Welterweight title fight. While Khatib is focusing on the task at hand, he can’t help but think about the future a little bit.
“This is exactly what I am looking forward to,” says Khatib. “If I can win, I can get a shot at the belt at 170. I have wanted a belt for a long time and I think I have paid my dues and done what I can. I have had three title fights so far and two were wrong decisions and one I got choked out by Dan Hornbuckle. So I am just going to keep on trucking and I will never give up.”
While it is fairly uncommon to see fighters in their 40’s still have that fire in their eyes to put on a good show for the fans, you have to wonder how much longer Nabil will stay in the game. When asked why he continues to step in the cage it was hard to explain where that sparks still comes from.
“I couldn’t tell you, I just love to fight,” says Khatib. “MMA is just a passion of mine and I love to teach the sport. Being in the cage is a thrill for me. Maybe you could call it a child obsession for me. I didn’t get into too many fights when I was a kid and maybe it is coming out now. What keeps me going, I guess, is that I love the crowd if they boo me or if they cheer for me.”
Going into the fight, one of the major preparations for anyone is the weight cut and having a proper diet in place to make things easier. With being a chef for over 15 years, Khatib has been able to stay on top of the latest nutrition information while sharing the knowledge with his twitter followers. There has been one new vegetable that has been put into his diet for this fight and he got the tip from one of his Tristar teammates.
“I have been taking in a lot of kale lately,” says Khatib. “It is really, really good for you but I do not really enjoy the taste of it. Lately, I have been sprinkling a little lemon juice on it and eating it raw. I got a tip from Will Romero at Tristar and he makes protein shakes with it. I will just chop it up and stick it in my freezer fresh so it will last forever and I make shakes with it that way. I have also added avocado, coconut milk, quinoa and a lot of fresh greens.”
While he may be looking forward to spending the rest of his summer with his family, teaching, training or getting the chance to ride his new motorcycle, Khatib will look to make an impression for the crowd Saturday, only time will tell if it transfers into a win.