The Full Story: Ramiz Brahimaj

His eyes bright, his face glowing, Brahimaj chuckles.

“So to answer your question, it definitely meant everything to me when I walked out with my team and I was helping them during these troubling times.”

Back in October, Brahimaj returned to live action, competing in a grappling match. When he submitted his opponent, he bounced to his feet and shot finger guns at his people on the other side of the cage; the exuberance from being back in his element unmistakable in the smile on his face.

In March, he got the call to face Gorimbo in his return to the Octagon.

“It was the biggest reality check for me, and it made me love fighting and miss fighting so much,” he says, reflecting on the entire ordeal just a couple weeks out from his first UFC appearance in more than two years. “It made me hate myself for all the times I ever took my health for granted, my career for granted, if I was ever a s***-head, and it brought a different mindset to me because I thought it was the end; I really did.

“I thought that was it. I thought I was gonna have to write something that I did not wanna write.

“I’ve probably been a thorn in the side of Sean Shelby, too, pulling out of my last two fights, and now I just wanna apologize to him,” he adds. “It was one of the lowest points of my life and I can’t wait to come back and do so much more for him and the company. I’m ever grateful to everybody that has been involved, everybody that has been around me.

“I can’t sing their praises enough.”

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Gorimbo is a game opponent and a good man, entering on a two-fight winning streak and carrying solid momentum as a result of his own story of struggle, perseverance, and giving back has gone viral with a little help from his new friend, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

But Saturday night isn’t about the person standing opposite him in the Octagon; it’s about continuing this latest mission, taking the final steps on the long, difficult road back, and the next steps in a journey of appreciation.

“The one thing I’ve been trying to do is be in the moment as much as possible, and I have every intention, with God as my witness, to be in the moment May 18 and handle business; live and breathe every second in that Octagon,” offers Brahimaj, finally able to look forward again.

“Whether I get this guy out in the first round, second round, third round or beat him by decision, I will enjoy every single second, every single breath, every motion, movement — from the warmup to the walk to the Octagon, to walking up those steps, to seeing my opponent, seeing the referee, to the first exchange to the last exchange.

“I have every intention, God-willing, of being ever-present in that moment and making the most of it, because it feels like everything was stripped away,” he adds. “It feels like what happened was almost an out of body experience where I was stripped away from Ramiz Brahimaj, and the angels were telling me, ‘Look at what you had! Look what you could do! It’s about to be away from you, so if we give you another chance, what are you gonna do with it?’”

The answer is simple: Brahimaj hopes to help people by continuing to share his story, understanding that having the strength to be vulnerable and let people in to one of the most difficult moments of his life is a powerful tool that can help someone else.

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