From being shot and nearly killed, to making it to the top of The PFL — the true story of Nayib Lopez

In a story that personifies will and determination, the life of Nayib Lopez has been anything but easy. But regardless of all the obstacles placed in his way, ‘Cachorro’ refused to give up until he made it to The PFL.

While his nickname means ‘puppy’ in Spanish, he’s certainly not cute and cuddly when the time comes to compete.

Born in Mexico, the talented athlete quickly gravitated towards fighting, using his favourite TV stars as inspiration for setting foot in the cage.

Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he reminisced: “I grew up watching martial arts movies with Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, and Bruce Lee. Some of my favourites were ‘Universal Soldier’ and ‘The Fury of the Dragon’, but without a doubt, the ones that gave me the desire to be stronger were the Dragon Ball Z movies, mainly the ones with Super Saiyan, probably because I wanted to be strong and powerful like him.

“The films that taught me to give everything, not only in the cage but also in life, were the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone. All of these movies and characters were part of my childhood and my martial arts growth.”

After finding a gym in his local area, he fell in love with MMA, racking up a plethora of impressive performances, and it looked as if his rise to the pinnacle of the game was imminent.

But then, in the blink of an eye, his life would never be the same again.

In a testament to his bravery and transparency, he shared his heart-wrenching and traumatic story.

Nayib Lopez nearly lost his life after being shot

Lopez explained: “The day I was shot was a day that marked my life forever because it caused me to realise that many times, bad things can happen to people who have done nothing wrong…

“That day, I remember going home to prepare my things to start my training camp. When I was crossing the street to get to my house, three guys suddenly appeared.

“They tried to intimidate me. They asked me for my few belongings, and even though I gave those to them, they started to assault me. But when they realised their punches weren’t hurting me, one of them took out a firearm and began to hit me. I only covered myself when I heard some detonations from the weapon.

“When I heard that, I struggled with them, trying to escape. But they held me down and shot me, causing me to fall to the ground, where they continued to assault me, I came close to losing consciousness. I only heard people screaming and the lights of the ambulance. When I regained my senses, I was on my way to the hospital with the paramedics doing everything possible so that I didn’t bleed to death since I had lost a lot of blood.”

How did Nayib Lopez recover from being shot?

With his life hanging in the balance, medical experts began doing everything in their power to ensure that he survived. However, with injuries so severe, they were fighting an uphill battle. But in a testament to Lopez’s incredible fighting spirit, he miraculously pulled through. Although, sadly, the doctors concluded that he’d never be able to return to the cage.

The Mexican recalled: “When the doctors operated on me, their first comments were, ‘Thank God you’re alive, and at least you can still walk’. Hearing and knowing about my prognosis was very sad since I never imagined not being able to do normal activities. But my dad taught me not to give up, and he and my mother helped me get up. They motivated me to fight since I had fallen into a depression, but because of them, I came back to life.”

Lewis Nayab trading punches in The PFL

When operating at the top level of combat sports, fighters are inundated with people wanting to be their friend. But when they stumble upon hard times, they soon realise who truly loves them.

Lopez claimed: “It was difficult because I realised that many people really left me alone. People who called themselves friends were the first to leave me. They all treated me like a leper, as if I was going to infect them with something. They never asked what had happened to me. Those people only judged me, the injured person with bandages and bleeding who couldn’t move. It was difficult. Very few gave me a hand. The only ones who stayed with me were my parents, some relatives and some friends who today have become family.”


Nayib Lopez owes everything to God and his mum and Dad

The warrior has always shared an incredibly close relationship with his parents. No matter what it took, they did their best to love him and ensure he had every opportunity to succeed.

Therefore, the pair of them share a special place in his heart. And even though his father is no longer here, Lopez will fight in his honour for the rest of his life.

Speaking candidly, he said: “My family has always been an important factor for me. As a child, I never saw how much they struggled to give us a little food or a gift on special occasions. Now that I am an adult, I see what they went through to give us the little they could. Today, I really value what it is to buy a little food or the simple fact of paying the bills. I see that all my father’s teachings were useful because he taught me to work and my mother showed me how to bring warmth to a home.”

Nayib Lopez is thrilled to have signed with The PFL

Lopez continued: “Fighting for my father’s memory is a personal pleasure since it shows my dad that everything I do is because he gave me one more chance to return to the game by not leaving me there when I was lying in a bed. Today, I want him to see where I have made it, and I would give up a lot just to be able to share it with him. It is a great pleasure to be able to be with my mother since she carries and lives this with me, but I miss my father’s support.”

Nayib Lopez thanks a lot of his success to his relationship with God

Through his belief in God, Lopez knows that one day, he will see his father again.

He asserted: “I am not a religious fanatic. But I have always been grateful to God for the opportunities he has given me, the places he has taken me and especially the people he has brought into my life. I try to lead a good life and share with people the good that this sport has brought me, since I always try to entrust myself and thank God for one more day of training and being able to be with my family and friends.”

Nayib Lopez made his dreams come true when he signed with The PFL

Exhibiting formidable courage and an unrelenting will to do what he loves, Lopez clawed his way back to MMA. And after impressing purists with his lethal striking and sensational grappling, he secured his position in The PFL.

In his debut in the promotion, he produced a sparkling performance to defeat Shane Mitchell to take him to 16-0.

And while his next bout ended in defeat, he proved beyond doubt that he has the minerals to compete with the best fighters on Earth.

Over the course of three brutal rounds, he traded blows with Magomed Umalatov in a fierce contest that left both men covered in claret and the crowd cheering from their seats.

Despite the loss, his stock is at its highest, with fans desperate to see him back in action.

Nayib Lopez was always destined for war

No matter where his crazy journey would’ve taken him, ultimately he was destined to represent his beloved nation.

He beamed: “If I had not followed a life in sports, I would have been with some friends in the Mexican army as me and two friends made a promise to defend our country together. They did follow the promise, and I followed another path even though they tell me, ‘You defend our country with punches’. Then I realised that we fight for Mexico in different ways.”

With the world seemingly at his feet, Lopez is excited for the next chapter of his career. But when all is said and done, he knows what legacy he’d like to leave behind.

The gladiator concluded: “I would like to be remembered as the person who never gave up, to honour my nickname ‘CACHORRO’, because dogs do the impossible for their loved ones; I want to be an example of that for everyone, that despite adversity I never gave up!”

Featured Image Credit: PFL