OTTAWA - Nabil “The Thrill” Khatib will fight professionally for the 19th time at Wreck MMA’s Road to Glory at the Lac-Leamy Casino in Gatineau on Friday, April 20.
The Ottawa welterweight and owner of the Team Bushido MMA Fitness Center is approaching middle age, has three children aged 14-20, three dogs (all boxers), one unfulfilled MMA goal and a dark period in his past.
“I partied a long time ... I was up and down through high school, straightened up for a while, then found cocaine, which of course turned bad to worse and wasn’t very fun,” Khatib said.
“I lived five years not knowing what was next; a couple of times I was on the street.”
Now a respected coach, mentor and Chamber of Commerce member, the 42-year-old Khatib rarely has spoken of this time.
“I lost about five years of my life. Then I found my wife and straightened up. She stuck with me through it all and remains the light of my life,” Khatib said.
After his first kickboxing match in 1995, Khatib has never looked back.
“I love what I do. I love the sport and teaching the drills,” said Khatib, who is 11-7 in MMA, and will fight lanky up-and-comer Brandt Dewsberry of Lethbridge, Alta. (8-1-1), who, at 6-foot-2, is three inches taller and at 21 one year older than Khatib’s oldest child.
There’s no quit in Khatib.
“When you love something so much, why would you want to stop doing it?” he asked.
Khatib may also have dual roles on fight night, serving as an adviser in the corner of Team Bushido’s James Kouame for his first MMA test.
In the ring, Khatib still seethes over losing a unanimous five-round decision to Nathan Gunn at Wreck MMA’s eighth event last October.
“I have had three title fights, and lost them all,” said Khatib. “It’s a little annoying, the last couple of bouts. The UFC looks at records.
“My plan is always to win a title fight, and to fight in the UFC ... Whether I am 42 or 46 I will keep going.”
Tickets for Road To Glory are available through Ticketmaster.