WATCH: Kurdish UFC star plans to ‘speak out’ about northern Syria after fight

“I’m Kurdish, so that’s [on] my mind all the time. I will never forget where I come from. I’m proud of that.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Makwan Amirkhani says he will be thinking about his Kurdish brothers and sisters when he enters the octagon on Saturday at the mouth-watering UFC 244 event.

Amirkhani (15-3-0) will face Shane Burgos (12-1-0) in the featherweight division on the preliminary card of UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night local time.

“How can you forget, considering what’s going on at the moment in Northern Syria?” Amirkhani told MMA Junkie in an interview on Thursday.

“I’m Kurdish, so that’s [on] my mind all the time. I will never forget where I come from. I’m proud of that, where I come from.”

The Kurdish athlete said he plans to “speak out” about the situation in northern Syria, where Turkey has launched a military offensive against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), leaving hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced.

“It’s not something I haven’t thought about since this whole fight camp,” he stated. “It’s been something I’ve been thinking constantly, so I’m happy to get this chance to go there and finish my opponent. Then, [I’ll] speak out.”

During the weigh-in on Friday, he donned the traditional red, green, and yellow scarf worn by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Amirkhani’s last fight was on the main card of UFC Fight Night 153 in Stockholm, Sweden, in June, where he defeated opponent Chris Fishgold (18-3-1) in round two of the featherweight bout.

Read More: Mixed results for Kurdish fighters on UFC card in Sweden

Amirkhani, who fights out of Turku, Finland, was born in the Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) city of Kermanshah.

The Kurd, known as “Mr. Finland,” once held the fastest win in UFC history when he knocked out opponent Andy Ogle after eight seconds of the first round on his debut at Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena on Jan. 24, 2015.

UFC 244 also features the blockbuster match-up between welterweight stars Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz.

The preliminary card begins at 3 a.m. Erbil time on Nov. 3, while the main card starts at 5 a.m.