Bellator lightweight Djamil Chan overcomes autism to make the big time

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Cagewriter

Djamil Chan said he doesn't want to be pitied. The Bellator MMA newcomer is autistic, which makes the fact that he finds himself competing at the highest level of mixed martial arts all the more amazing.

Djamil Chan (Getty Images)
Djamil Chan (Getty Images)
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And anyone who watched Chan's Bellator debut last week against Richard Patishnock would no doubt be pitying Patishnock and not Chan.

After working his way off the ground, Chan landed one of the best overhand rights of the year that all but finished Patishnock. The rest were the formalities, like how long it would take the referee to get in to stop the bout. It was over at 3:09 of the first round.

Chan, 25, grew up in The Netherlands, where so many of the great kick boxers train. He was into fighting from a young age and said he dropped out of school while he was in high school.

He said he prefers not to discuss his autism, because he doesn't want to be pitied. He wants to be judged as a fighter and said he's taking his job more seriously now that he is a father.

"I love fighting and I have always loved it," Chan told Yahoo Sports. "But now that I have a son, I have more responsibility. This is not just a fun thing I do. It's how I take care of my family and that takes it to a different [realm]. I need to be serious about this and I need to be able to perform when it's prime time because of the responsibility I know have."

A lightweight, Chan is now 12-2 overall in his MMA career and 1-0 in Bellator. He appeared on Season 22 of "The Ultimate Fighter," but lost in the preliminary round and didn't make it into the house.

His goal is a simple one: Make himself must-see TV.

"I don't believe in coincidence and I am where I am because of all the hard work I've put in," he said. "All of the knockouts have gotten me to this moment. I am always an exciting fighter ... I promise crazy, explosive fights."

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