OKTAGON MMA’s Aaron Aby uses past as inspiration: “Fighting gave me hope”

By Zain Bando - November 2, 2023

Aaron Aby enters Saturday night’s inaugural OKTAGON MMA flyweight title fight against Elias Garcia with more than earning a win on his mind, he said.


“Fighting again gave me hope,” Aaron Aby said in an interview with BJPenn.

Aby, a Wales native, has overcome leaps and bounds throughout his MMA career thus far, even nearly being told he may never compete professionally after being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth.

After competing in soccer for Wales and defying all odds, Aaron Aby began competing in professional MMA in January 2013, where he would quickly make a name for himself on the regional circuit.

Aby secured victories in six of his first eight fights, securing four stoppages and becoming a mainstay during his stint in Full Contact Contender.

As momentum was starting to pick up for Aby in the fall of 2017, he was faced with another setback – testicular cancer. For many professional athletes, it could end a career. But for Aby, who dreams of becoming a UFC world champion one day, it wasn’t an option for him to accept defeat, he said.

My battle with cancer was the toughest journey I’ve ever been on,” Aaron Aby said. “Not only physically and mentally, it was challenging. The chemotherapy was really damaging my lungs and health. I needed three operations and had complications such as pneumonia, which affected my cystic fibrosis.”

Aby said there was uncertainty about whether the final surgery would be a success, given the cancer’s life-altering drawbacks.

Aby was inactive for over two years before returning in September 2019

“The cancer had spread to my stomach, and at the time I started treatment, I was told without it, I’d have months left,” Aby said. “The operation I had to remove the mass from my stomach only one surgeon in the UK would perform. They didn’t know if it would be successful, but he got it done.”

Aby credits his doctors and family for helping him regain strength, re-defining his love for fighting.

“My parents and the people around me have played a massive part in who I am and my mentality. Growing up, they treated me just like everyone else and always [pushed] me to try my best and never give up. I owe a lot to them and a lot of people.”

Currently sitting at 15-7-1 and coming off back-to-back victories against Junior Willian Da Silva Pereira and Joevincent Soe, Aby said Garcia is dangerous but recognizes the opportunity in front of him.

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“Training camp has gone well for this fight,” Aby said. “I’m always in the gym training anyway. I’ve just added some specific things we want to work on in this fight. Garcia is a tough, versatile opponent who can fight in all areas of MMA. The keys to beating him are to be Aaron Aby, push the pace, mix it up and make it worth every inch.”

Making his OKTAGON debut, Aby said his story is what the promotion wants to see.

“OKATAGON is doing great things in the world of MMA, and I’m proud to be on their first card in the UK,” Aby said. “Especially as the main event. I’ve always been a fan of the promotion after hearing stories about the owners and how passionate the fans are.”

Aby said what’s most important is staying in the present, with the rest coming afterward.

“My goals are to win this fight, become a world champion and move forward from there.”

What are your thoughts about Aaron Aby’s story ahead of OKTAGON 48 on Saturday? Let us know, Penn Nation!


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