While Ali Khatibi was already making rounds in the world of MMA, it’s safe to say that the Filipino masa first got to know him because of his girlfriend. He had just started dating actress Cristine Reyes, who had soon after announced that she was pregnant with their first child. Fast forward to 2017, the two are now married and share a beautiful two-year old daughter, Amarah.
Whether you talk to the Fil-Iranian fighter in person, or scroll his social media accounts, it’s clear that being a father hasn’t completely stopped Ali from doing what he loves. At the time we interviewed him, he was fresh from a jiu-jitsu competition in the US. These days, he still makes time for his wheels—be it cars or motorcycles. And whenever he can, he’ll tag his whole family along for the ride. All these and his “chill” approach to raising his kid have, without fail, made this 33-year-old a really cool dad.
What do you love most about being a dad?
"My daughter always looks for me. She always wants to hang out with me. And when she sees me in the house, she would chase me and want to go with me. I love that feeling of (having) one person who always wants to be around you no matter what."
How do you normally bond with your child?
"She has this little bike, where we go around the village in. That’s our bonding time. I have a friend, our neighbor, who does jiu jitsu, too. They have a son, so we’d walk there and hang out with them. Biking or walking is a good way to bond with your kids"
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What’s changed the most about you since becoming a dad?
"When I was single, I could go out and do anything I want—just (be) carefree. Cristine and I went to Dubai for skydiving, desert safari, and a bunch of stuff like that. But when I got married and had a family, things slowed down for me. Now, when we plan something, our daughter should be there. It’s more kid-friendly."
Are there stereotypes about dads that you think are false?
"People say that dads can’t change diapers or bathe their kid. But those are things I do for my daughter! I think dads can do anything a mom does. It’s just really up to the dad."
Who is your role model?
"I would say my uncle, Peter Kairuz. He’s from 700 Club. I grew up in his house, with my cousins. I just remember him being a good example to everyone, not just to kids. That’s why I look up to him."
What tips would you want to give first-time dads?
"My advice would be to get your hands dirty and be involved. Changing diapers, bathing them, feeding them—those are good things that’ll stick to you. (Amarah) would wake up at two or three in the morning, and I was like a zombie. But I had to feed her. That’s something I struggled with, but it’s fun when I remember it now."
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Describe your diet and workout
"I train and do weights. So, I’m the type who needs to eat to have energy. But I don’t really diet. I just eat clean. What I mean by that is I avoid fatty and oily food. I think it’s always better to eat at home and prepare your own food. I think that’s a good tip for others. I also don’t like drinking soda. It’s always water or fresh juice."
What's your advice for staying stylish and kempt?
"Even if you’re a dad, it’s no excuse that you shouldn’t take care of yourself. Being stylish? Simple is always good. I don’t like overdressing."
What do you normally post online?
"Stuff that I do or stuff I do with my family."
What are the most touching comments you’ve gotten from your posts?
"People saying that they look up to us, (that we’re) family goals, and how they’re very happy for us. 'God bless you even more'—things like that."
In your opinion, has social media give people a better idea of who you are and what you do you?
"I think social media has made a big difference. When I post about my activities like jiu jitsu and training, people are curious. It’s a growing sport here. Not a lot of people know about it. So when I post, they ask where they can train or what jiu jitsu is."
Anything planned for Father’s Day?
"I don’t have plans. But I think Cristine is going to surprise me. I overheard her talking to her friends. She doesn’t know though. (Laughs)."
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Produced by Julia Arenas, Angela Sy, & Barry Viloria | Cinematography: Jana Jimenez and Gio Vibar | Photography: Vyn Radovan | Production Assistant: Chloe Ramirez | Grooming: Julia Arenas | Styling: Barry Viloria | Shot on location at 916 Luna Mencias St., Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City | Special thanks to: @TimHortonsPHL, @ChefClassics, @GoodyPH, @UniqloPHOfficial, Trisha Naguiat of @SpectreMNL, Ivan Cabral and Tiff Uy of Campaigns & Grey, Apryl Galang of ODV, Danica Gigante of EON, Jenna Sy, & Jed Macaraya of @VIVAArtistsAgency