West End Athletic Club, Home To Another Champion
On March 30, 2023, Xavier Nash won by split decision, defeating Navid Zanganeh in the Lightweight World Title; BFL 76: Canada vs. The World MMA and Kickboxing event in Vancouver, B.C.
Xavier was able to use his MMA experience to neutralize the World Champion’s wrestling pedigree and kept the fight on the feet (striking). He picked away at the Champion Navid with kicks to the lead leg, stabbing kicks to the body, and wasn’t afraid to sit down and throw some heavy leather (hands). Navid was made to feel uncomfortable on his feet and was forced to shoot for takedowns from too far away or without setting them up. This led to Xavier being able to easily defend them and keep the fight where he wanted it.
Xavier Nash and Coach Rob Santos working on the Game plan for the fight.
Navid started to feel the effects of all the attacks to the body and legs and started to tire out. By round 5, Navid was exhausted while Xavier still felt fresh; he started wrestling and grappling against Navid and secured the takedown that kept Navid glued to the floor, drowning him under his heavy top game. From there, Xavier advanced position to Back Mount, where he rained down heavy blows and tried to secure the Rear Naked Choke. Navid was able to do just enough to defend the choke and survive but was punished for it with more punches and choke attempts but making it to the final bell.
Xavier going for the Rear Naked Choke in Round 5.
Xavier Raining down heavy punches to dominantly win the round.
Fifth-Round Blowout By Xavier
Tensions were high when it came to listening for the judges to render their decision. Navid was the hometown fighter with the crowd behind him, this can really influence the judges when it comes to tallying up the scores. The first judge scored it for Xavier 48-47, the second judge 49-46 for Navid, and lastly, the deciding judge #3 scored it 48-46 in favour of Xavier, making it official that Xavier Nash is the new BFL Lightweight (155Lbs) Champ.
With a win like this, X will either go on to defend his title or jump the line and be a front-runner for the next Canadian to be Signed by the UFC!
Navid Zanganeh and Xavier Nash are both ready to become the Lightweight World Champion.
Round by Round
Distance strikes by X attacking Leg and Body. Navid goes for takedowns and can’t get it, but was able to lift X into the air on 2 occasions but was still unable to get him to the ground. X was like a cat, always able to land on his feet.
Xavier Nash picks at Navid with a well-placed Cross in Round 1.
Navid looks to blitz his way with looping punches to try to take Xavier down; he doesn’t like being stuck on the outside with Xavier picking at him with well-placed shots. Whenever Navid is able to get in on Xavier’s legs or in the clinch, Xavier defends the takedown, breaks away, or reverses position. This is a huge statement considering the resume of Navid, who is a World Champion wrestler with various medals to his name. All these failed takedown attempts take their toll and are really tiring out Navid.
Navid comes out aggressively looking to end the fight quickly, given that his cardio is depleting. He goes for a hook and immediately looks to clinch and take X down. X defends it well with a Whizzer/Overhook. He breaks away and continues to pick apart Navid with his striking. A similar sequence occurs, then Navid gets his first takedown, but he can’t hold X down. X gets up after fighting the hands/grips. Navid spent a lot of energy getting X down, but it was all in vain.
A Kick from Xavier strays a little high and hits Navid in the cup. He takes the 5-minute break to milk the clock and try to get some cardio back.
Xavier had spent countless hours at West End AC, ensuring that his endurance could outlast any opponent. Coach Rob knew Navid’s strengths and weaknesses, so X was ready to defend himself and then strike when he saw Navid getting tired.
Resuming the fight, X paces back and forth, staring down his opponent knowing that Navid was mentally breaking and looking for a way out. Navid comes out aggressive and looks to slam Xavier, but again he gets back up and X is out-striking him. Navid goes back to the corner breathing heavily on the stool between rounds.
Navid starts aggressively again, landing his straight shots and securing a takedown. Xavier threatens a choke (guillotine) and uses it to stand back up and get to the standing clinch. X is able to land some short shots and elbows, but Navid is able to get him down another time. X fights the hands, stands back up, and goes right back to his game plan: Leg Kicks, Stabbing Kicks to the body and Straight punches.
Navid is able to secure another takedown in the centre of the octagon leading to good control. But in the last second, Xavier, the BJJ Brown Belt, reverses position and begins to start taking Navid’s back. Coach Rob catches onto this, given his experience cornering fighters in the UFC and athletes across the world, and uses it to make a fight-winning game plan change.
Given the hometown crowd as well as some good moments in the last 2 rounds, the fight is even. 2 rounds to 2 rounds, 38-38, going into the 5th and FINAL round. The winner of Round 5 will win the fight and the Championship Belt!
Game plan change from Coach Rob for the Championship Round
Coach Rob motivates Xavier in the corner, he says, “We need to change the game. We need to push the pace on him. The punches don’t have to be super hard, fake, touch, fake, touch and use it to start grappling exchanges. You took his back at the end there but ran out of time. If you can get there earlier, you’re going to get him. He’s breaking down, you’re killing him!” Rob wants Xavier to wrestle against the Wrestler because he knows that Navid is tired and that Xavier has much more experience on the ground (being a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) and in MMA grappling.
The Trust that an Athlete places in their Coach is built in the Practice Room.
After landing a few jabs and calf kicks, Xavier shoots in on Navid’s legs 20 seconds into the round. He wasted no time in listening to the advice Coach Rob gave him and takes Navid down, and after a brief scramble, is able to secure a dominant position. Just like he ended the first round, X immediately gets the back of Navid, except this time, he had 4 minutes to work from that position instead of 2 seconds.
X attacks the Rear Naked Choke and is about to finish Navid. Navid frees his neck from Xavier’s grip after pulling the hands apart. Xavier gets on top and starts landing heavy shots. He takes his back again, this time with Navid’s belly down. X picks at him with short clubbing shots to the side of Navid’s head using his hips to immobilize Navid. Time expires as Navid is curled up and unable to move underneath Xavier, attempting to shield his head from Xavier’s Ground and Pound.
This was a dominant finish to the fight for Xavier. X showed the heart of a champion and dug deep to perform his best when he knew he needed to. He remained disciplined and calm, listening to his coach in a high-pressure situation.
Xavier Nash, Lightweight World Champion, stands victorious with Coaches Robert Santos and Barry Simms.
Training Like a Champion in Order to Be One
Xavier does a lot of his strength and conditioning at West End AC. Included in his training routine:
- Intense sprints and distance running
- Weightlifting and explosive training
- Core exercises
- Heavy bag work and shadow boxing mixed in between
In his corner at the fight were Coaches Rob Santos (West End Coach and Santos BJJ) and Barry Simms (Santos BJJ – NoGi BJJ and MMA). Rob Santos is an MMA Coach, Striking Coach, and Grappling Coach. He helped Xavier with his game plan. Simms is a former fighter that trained in Montreal at Tri-Star Gym and a World Class Grappler that competes around the world. Also, two-time Canadian Champion Dorjan ‘The Hope’ Dokaj flew out with them, was in the audience and helped out in the backstage warm-up area.
Xavier Nash focused on becoming a Champion.
X wouldn’t be the fighter he is today without the influence of Chris Prickett, Niagara Top Team Wrestling/MMA Coach and Coaches at Brock Wrestling (the Best Wrestling Program in Ontario). This was a huge factor in X having great wrestling technique and skill. Prickett also trains UFC Fighters Mike Mallot, Kyle Nelson, and Jasmine Jasudavicius.
As much as fighting is an individual sport that requires self-discipline, strength, and both physical and mental toughness, having Coaches and a gym that support and believe in your ability are what guide your competitive energy.