Professionally known as “The Lebanese Gorilla,” Omran Chaaban is a Lebanese-Finnish Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter who has proven his ability and determination to achieve his ambitious goals.
Searching for Meaning
Before reaching that professional fame, Chaaban was a teenager who sought something meaningful to invest his time and energy into.
He tried basketball for a while and lost interest, then finally found that his place was in the fighting ring.
Without telling his mother, who wasn’t fond of violence, the Helsinki-born Lebanese began his basic martial arts training around the age of 15.
His formal training was cut short after a few weeks, however, due to his family’s financial difficulties. But, he did not lose the determination to pursue what he loved.
“I saved money, and I started training [again] when I was 16, and I found myself good at it,” the 21-year-old fighter told The961.
At that point, he had not only decided that competing in martial arts was what he wanted to do, but he had fully immersed himself in that world.
Chaaban eliminated distractions: deleted all of his social media accounts, left friend group chats, stopped having nights out with friends, and completely shifted his focus to his training.
“I made a decision one night – I was hanging out with my friends – I was like: I’m not doing that anymore, I’m not just going out and hanging out with my friends. I have to do something meaningful in my life for me and my family, for my country,” he told us.
Around that time, Chaaban had been fighting as an amateur, but his exceptional performances were already raising eyebrows. He made his way to becoming the top kickboxer in Finland, then he moved on to MMA.
“MMA is a pretty new sport, especially in Europe and Finland, so there were a lot of adults there… I was like 16 years old fighting 30-year-old men, and I was beating the guys,” Chaaban recalled.
During one of his early fights, his brother and sister were watching his performance, and they made an observation that helped create his current professional persona, he explained.
“When I entered the cage, my sister and my brother called me ‘The Gorilla’ because, they said, I looked like a gorilla… It sounds nice, and then my brother said: ‘Yeah, The Lebanese Gorilla,’ and basically that’s when the nickname started.”
Keeping the goal of supporting his family in mind, he started aiming higher thereon. Having lost their dad at a young age, Chaaban and his siblings were raised solely by their mother for years.
The Lebanese Gorilla
After rigorous training, in 2017, Omran Chaaban won the Finnish Amateur Championship, then won it again in 2018, the same year he represented Finland at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation Junior World Championships.
He went on to train in several countries around the world, including Sweden and Ireland, and, with his brother’s support, he started to work on turning professional.
“I want to be professional, I want to be the world champ, I want to be the greatest, I want to go to the UFC,” the motivated fighter would affirm to himself.
After solidifying that mindset, he finally informed his mother of his plans and set out to realize his dreams.
Chaaban left school at the age of 18 to later make his professional debut at the London-based MMA promotion Cage Warriors 110, after moving to Ireland in pursuit of high-level training.
He concluded his first professional match with a unanimous decision win, and he’s determined to win his way to the top of the professional MMA food chain.
In a few weeks, after having signed a contract with the UAE Warrior promotion, the largest MMA promotion in the Middle East, Chaaban is set to fight UAE-based competitor Kheir Khalifa Eshoushan.
“I’m just doing what we do every time: just go there, be better — that’s the important thing,” the Team KF competitor said. The fight is due on October 28th in Abu Dhabi.