‘At five years old, I herded 600 animals on my own’ — inside the life of Nyamjargal Tumendemberel

Born into the world of nomadic herding, Nyamjargal Tumendemberel has developed an unbreakable mindset honed through years of braving the cold and storms to honour his family’s fascinating lifestyle.

While the flyweight has proven his martial arts skills beyond doubt, his road to the top started long before he ever graced the cage. From as early as he can remember, the Mongolian witnessed his parents guiding their animals through rough terrain and towering mountains, endeavouring to build a better life for themselves.

As a youngster, Tumendemberel watched and observed, learning the skills needed to survive in this remarkable environment. And it didn’t take long for his parents to throw him right into the deep end. At just five years old, he was trusted to go out into the freezing winter weather and herd 600 animals without any help whatsoever.

In an exclusive interview with Sporf, he reminisced: “When I was five years old, I herded 600 animals on my own. That was my duty; that was my job. We travelled every day in summer and in winter. If it’s raining, that does not matter. Even though Mongolian winters are so harsh, at -40 ° C, I still had to herd the animals. I had to do it because this is how we make our living. This process makes us tough. This process everyday hardens the body and mind like a real warrior. Everyday life is like a war.”

Nyamjargal Tumendemberel will always stay true to his Nomadic Herding roots

With an unrelenting love for his homeland and family history, Tumendemberel feels it’s his responsibility to bring attention to the noble way his loved ones live their lives.


He explained: “Nomadic herders wake up very early at sunrise. The ladies go to the cows and collect the milk, and the men go and herd the horses. Riding and herding horses is a very masculine job, which requires a lot of physical strength. The children start learning to ride the horses at four years old, so they are built like athletes from a young age. The day ends at the sunset. Our life cycle follows the sun.”

Nyamjargal Tumendemberel is one of the hottest prospects on the planet

While the world of nomadic herding will always hold a special place in his heart, the sublime athlete’s destiny lies elsewhere.

After starting his journey in traditional martial arts, his uncle bought him a present that changed his life forever.

He reminisced: “In Mongolia, UFC started broadcasting in 2012. At the time, I used to train in sambo, wrestling and judo. My uncle bought me a UFC game for the Xbox 360. We started playing it as a family; all the boys were playing it. At that time, I really started to like MMA. I left the judo career behind and decided to start doing MMA at 14.”

Nyamjargal Tumendemberel will settle for nothing less than UFC gold

From the moment he first set his sights on the big time, Tumendemberel wasn’t going to let anything get in his way. Having grown up navigating his way through the world’s most challenging environments, walking into the cage to fight another man is nothing in comparison to the challenges he’s already overcome.

After building an impressive 7-0 record, the fearsome athlete appeared on The Road to UFC, producing an awe-inspiring performance against ‘The Asian Viking’ Peter Danesoe. With fighting spirit racing through his veins, Tumendemberel dismantled his opponent with a series of devastating strikes before locking in a terrifying rear-naked choke, much to the delight of his family, who were back at home, cheering him on.”

The fighter beamed: “In Mongolia, the broadcasting industry is quite well-developed, so all the herders have access to a TV. So, they can watch my fights live. They put their work aside and tune in.”

“I hope to debut in UFC in 2024. In 2025, I want to be ranked in the top ten and then become a champion. It’s not a dream; it’s a planned goal. It’s no big deal. I’m going to be the first male UFC champion from Asia.”

Featured Image Credit: Nyamjargal Tumendemberel / Pixabay