PFL MMA Saudi Arabia Hattan

PFL’s Newly Signed Hattan Alsaif: ‘Accept the Pain and Live with It’

Hattan Alsaif was raised by her grandmother after the tragic loss of her parents. During her early life, she was surrounded by depressive tendencies and habits of self-harm. Therapy only went so far, while the pain always remained, Alsaif found peace through fighting.

“It wasn’t an easy life story. But I think God gave it to me so I can end up with this character with this power… I’m not sad for what happened or mad for what has happened to me. No.”

Hattan Alsaif of Saudi Arabia

The 22-year-old athlete represents a major milestone. Alsaif is the first Saudi Arabian woman who is signed to a global MMA promotion, as she was recently picked up by the PFL. She is proud to be a standard bearer for her nation as a whole and the women of Saudi Arabia.


“Saudi Arabia is going so fast in the sports at this time. And they are really achieving a lot. And I know that I will represent the women in my country and not just women in my country; the whole country. So it’s not an easy thing, but I’m quite sure that I will be the greatest person to represent my country.”

When the news broke of Alsaif signing with the PFL many fans jumped on the opportunity to leave snarky comments online about her. The 22-year-old athlete has read it all.

“I have seen a lot of people when the announcement went live, a lot of people were like ‘A girl from Saudi Arabia starting MMA, oh my God.’ No, don’t say, oh my God. Saudi Arabia is coming. And, they, they were even asking, could she drive? I mean, like, come on. I drive a Supra GR.”

She has already represented her nation on the world stage. Alsaif recently captured a gold medal in the World Combat Games fighting in Muay Thai. This also earned her the breakthrough female athlete award from the International Federation of Muay Thai Association. Now, after a strong start in Muay Thai, she is transitioning to MMA.

Professional Wrestling and Muhammad Ali

As so many fans before her, Hattan Alsaif found her love of combat sports through likely places, professional wrestling and Muhammad Ali. When she was younger she saw WWE on TV and was instantly smitten.

“I was so in love. There are some big actions, some blood, and some strong bodies. Something feels cool. You can feel the power by seeing it. I was so inspired by them until maybe like 11 years old. And then I started recognizing that it’s all just a show and that even the blood is not real. And I got really disappointed about it.”

The passing of international icon and all-time great boxer Muhammad Ali was a global event, Saudi Arabia included. At that time, boxing and MMA weren’t well-known in the country, thus it sparked Alsaif’s curiosity. She found herself wondering, ‘Who’s this Muhammad Ali? And what is boxing?’ It changed her perspective on what sports could be.

“So I got my little search. And I was just a kid, maybe like 13 years old. I just got the search in my iPad on YouTube, who’s Muhammad Ali? What is boxing? I started searching and, and the videos and watching and I was like, okay. Finally!

“There was a real sport that you can really hit and get hit. And there was real blood, and it’s not just a show like WWE. At that moment, I was like, okay, John Cena is not the strongest one. There are people stronger than John Cena. I just felt focused like I got that inspiration from boxing.”

The Gym and Muay Thai

The passing of Muhammad Ali became a key moment in her life. Alsaif had never even stepped into a sports gym before, but that’s the power of Ali. This led her to her first experience with combat sports and it was pivotal in her life. She knew that she found a new home.

“Since the first day I stepped my foot in that door, I was like, this is the place that I want to be. This is where I belong. They were training like in the morning, they turned off the lights, and you only see the sunlight. There’s no lamps. And it’s so, so, so, so warm. From the heat, everyone is just sweating and everyone is wearing shorts and sweating, t-shirts with hand wraps, gloves and boxing. Everywhere, everyone is screaming ‘Let’s go beast, you can do it!’ So I was like, I’m staying here. This is where I feel I belong.”

From there, she turned to the art of eight limbs. She earned a national medal in Muay Thai, which led eventually to an international gold medal in the sport. Alsaif would even visit the hallowed gyms of Thailand to perfect her striking craft. While in Thailand, she earned a new attitude toward training.

“To be honest, I was so happy training in Thailand. Because if you train there, you’re gonna feel more focused like only training, eating, sleeping, training, only eating, sleeping. That’s all you got. They used to tell me in the camp if you’re sick or you’re in pain or something, you train. You have to accept the pain and live with it.”

Fighting and Recovery

When she was only 15 years old, Alsaif lost both of her parents. This led her down a challenging path, facing suicide and depression. Competing in combat sports, and working tirelessly in the gym, helped her recover. But, the Saudi Arabian-born fighter would not recommend this for everyone.

Athletics is a part of recovering one’s mental health, however, it’s only a single piece. She recommends following one’s doctor’s recommendations and having faith. Ultimately, for Alsaif, martial arts saved her life.

“My advice is not going to be just leave your doctor and go to martial arts. It’s not easy. You have to be with both with your doctor, or with your pills, and with the martial arts. It’s not gonna help only by itself. No. You need your doctor with you…

“You’ll need something to have faith in. You will need something to help you to sleep. You will need something to make you sleep without nightmares. You will need a lot of things. But for me, all my faith was in God. I’m a Muslim, so all my faith was in God.

“And I was trying to accept what’s happened in my life, and that was not my [fault], or it’s not at all about me. Because I used to blame myself. About what? It happened. So I started to accept the faith. I started focusing a lot on martial arts only training and discipline, training and discipline, eating and sleeping.

“It changed my body and changed my mind. It changed my lifestyle. It changed me totally. A hundred percent. And that’s why it helped me to get over it. Thank God.

“I lost faith in myself at that time when I was in a depression. I had the lowest faith in myself, but the people around me, they had faith in me. Pushing me to have the power to believe in myself and to have faith in myself. So believe in yourself and get people that believe in you.”