Describing himself as a dangerous competitor as opposed to a dirty competitor, Shahgholi explains that his mindset going into every match, especially with substantial prize money on the line, is, “It’s either kill or be killed.”
“Competition-wise when there’s 50 grand on the line, my opponent is trying to break me and submit me so I have the same intentions,” Shahgholi said. “In the training room I prepare and practice to physically break down my opponent mentally and physically. It’s called breaking mechanics.”
Keyboards have been lit and almost every angle has been broken, from criticism to hate to flat out insults. It’s a rare occasion when a 16-year-old has put himself in the public eye where members of the same community are free to play without filters. What they don’t know is that Pat Shahgholi is not your typical 16-year-old.
Check out the UFC 281: Adesanya vs. Pereira Fight Card
“I love it. I love the hate,” Shahgholi said. “Next race, they’re going to keep watching me for the rest of their time. They’ll keep seeing me on their feed or YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, SnapChat, they’ll just keep seeing me and they’ll get mad. They’re angry at what I’m doing but they can’t stop it. They have to deal with it.”
Shahgholi explains that if the public continues to build him up as “the BJJ bad guy” and promoters like it, he will embrace the role. He knows there’s a small chance he’s set a target on himself, but in reality, it won’t change much. It’s not like they would treat him much differently before his viral moment.
“There may be a little of [a target] but maybe not, Shahgholi said. “I think everyone is just crazy, but what do you expect from the game of jiu jitsu? People train to break each other.”
The only request Shahgholi has to the public is that they watch the entire match and post-match before accusing him of being classless. Sure, he tightened the heel hook and sure, he celebrated, but he didn’t leave Vieira there to limp home. He took in the moment and showed respect, whether you saw it or not.