Time: April 16, 2018
Played out in front of a boisterous Brazilian crowd on Friday night, Brave 11 was hailed by the country’s local press as “one of the best MMA nights of the year.”
Now Arab News can exclusively reveal discussions are taking place between fight organizers and officials in Saudi Arabia to host a Brave event in the Kingdom later this year.
Brave Combat Federation is considered one of the fastest-growing sports promotions companies in the world. The weekend’s event in southeastern Brazil was the 11th Brave event in 18 months and the 13-bout fight card provided everything, from titles and tap-outs to sold-out seats, pools of blood and last-minute, gut-wrenching breaks.
Founded by Bahrain’s Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the organization has already held fight nights in seven countries, including Jordan, UAE, Mexico, India and Kazakhstan. The next event, on May 11, will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, but Mohammed Shahid, CEO of Brave, revealed a similar spectacle in Saudi Arabia is already in the pipeline.
“Saudi is a country that enjoys MMA,” Shahid said.
“There are a lot of fans there that love MMA and there are Saudi fighters who have competed at the regional promotions. We are very excited to be putting on an event there either later this year or early next year, but we are still in discussions. It’s definitely a part of our plan though — there is no question of if; it is a matter of when.”
Shahid continued: “We want to do many events in Saudi Arabia, but we want to do it the right way. We want to make sure that when we enter the market and give an event to them in their country that we do it properly. We want to make sure we provide them with the best product, the best fights and make sure we all enjoy a great night.”
On Friday, the main event featured Lucas Martins, a former UFC fighter who hails from the host city. He won the Lightweight belt in front of his friends and family with a fifth-round TKO. It came at the end of a ferocious night of fighting that included the fight-card’s two Arab fighters, Ahmed Amir of Egypt and Lebanon’s Georges Bardawil, both leaving the venue bruised and defeated. Amir lost by TKO, while Bardawil lost by unanimous decision.
Shahid said regardless of the results, watching Arabs fight on international cards brings the company “great satisfaction” and is “a sign of the success that Brave is creating.” He insisted however that there is no favoritism when it comes to selecting fighters. While the long-term goal of the company is to eventually change the entire sport in terms of the way it is organized — “to move it away from where the promoters decide the futures of the athletes” — for now Brave is focused on giving opportunities to athletes from parts of the globe that traditionally MMA has overlooked.
“Certainly when we see Arab fighters competing on such important cards around the world it gives us great satisfaction and is a sign of the success that Brave is creating,” said Shahid.
“It is crucial for us to have Arab fighters involved. But it’s also important that we have fighters from Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, Europe, Latin America. We want to give everyone an opportunity.
“The Arab fighters are a great example, however, of how we have given a platform to guys from a new region. It is not that they did not have a platform before, but we are giving a platform to compete at the highest level, to get more fans internationally, and showcase their talent around the world. We provide them with a chance to step outside the GCC and test themselves at a higher level.”