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Maggie Hendricks

Achhal makes MMA debut after escaping arranged marriage

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

Many fighters have had tough paths to the cage. Some have come up from poor families, been beaten by their parents or have seen mixed martial arts as their only way out. Iman Acchal has faced all of those things and crossed an ocean to become a fighter.

Achhal was born in Morocco and is Muslim. As is the custom, her parents arranged for her to be married to a man she didn't know. After seeing friends go through the same custom and be unhappy, she decided that she needed to leave and go to America. That wasn't very easy, as her parents would not receive the money they were promised for her wedding if Iman left. When she told her parents she was leaving, her mom beat her. As she said:

Even as an MMA fighter, that was the worst beating of my life.

Here in the United States, she has carved out a life for herself, and found solace in fighting. After winning three amateur bouts, she will make her pro debut with the Ultimate Warrior Challenge on Saturday night against fellow rookie Felice Herrig. Achhal is ready for anything that will be thrown at her, because to win is her "American dream."

I’ve been in the cage, I’ve taken the punches and I have kept coming forward. I’ve battled on the jiu-jitsu mat against men twice my size. I’ve fought fires and helped save lives. I’ve crossed the ocean, forging a new life from sweat and hard work. People say I have a strong chin; I say I have a stronger heart.

With what she has faced, getting out of a rear naked choke should be simple. Catch Acchal vs. Herrig at George Mason University on Saturday, Feb. 21.

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