One week removed from the biggest-ever fight card in Middle East history, Brave 9: The Kingdom of Champions, which produced two new divisional champions and many more stars, has been hailed as a turning point for the sport all over the world. From a Welterweight contender bringing down a former title challenger to a homecoming for the history books, the groundbreaking event was full of unforgettable stories for the winners.
Ottman Azaitar and Stephen Loman made history as they became world champions at Lightweight and Bantamweight, respectively, but other names also made headlines. Jarrah Al-Selawe took revenge on Carl Booth and positioned himself for a title shot; Ahmed Amir became the first fighter to have three wins under the Brave Combat Federation banner and Bahrain’s Hamza Kooheji became a local superstar with his tough performance at Brave 9.
We take a look at the biggest winners from a historical night at the Khalifa Sports City Arena.
The Moroccan phenom came into his Main Event bout against Alejandro “Pato” Martínez defending his unbeaten record and with questions over his wrestling and jiu-jitsu hanging over his head. Not only Azaitar stayed undefeated, capturing the inaugural Lightweight title in the process, but he also answered those questions with a bang.
Using his defensive wrestling to stay away from the mat for most of the fight, “The Bulldozer” showed a much-improved ground game as he resisted Martínez’s offensive jiu-jitsu the only time the fight hit the floor. After defending a choke with the calm of a veteran, Azaitar took over the fight before finally ending thing with a beautifully-placed front kick to the body.
After winning the title, the Moroccan has been offering his belt to several people that helped and cheered for him throughout his career, including the traditional Atatreh Family, from Dubai, and the Morocco Ambassador in Abu Dhabi. Azaitar has also gone back to Germany to enjoy his win with his family.
Carrying the pride of the Philippines on his shoulders, Stephen Loman had a perfect gameplan for his title fight with the dangerous Gurdarshan Mangat. Staying away from his opponent’s dangerous kicks and coming in with left hands with perfect timing, “The Sniper” stayed true to his nickname as he placed a perfect counter left to floor Mangat twice, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
Loman’s performance was even more impressive since his teammate and personal friend Jeremy Pacatiw had suffered a tough TKO loss earlier in the night to Jalal Al Daaja.
After winning the belt, “The Sniper” will not rest as a stacked Bantamweight division, including the likes of Al Daaja, Hamza Kooheji and Felipe Efrain wait on the wings for a title shot against the first-ever Brave champion under 61 kg.
Jarrah Al-Selawe’s win at Brave 9 meant he became the first Welterweight to win three fights for the promotion. However, revenge was the most important thing for the “Jordanian Lion” as Carl Booth had beaten him in only 30 seconds, in 2014, handing him the first defeat of his career.
With a smart gameplan, that stifled The Bomber’s dangerous stand-up, Al-Selawe dominated the Englishman on the floor and used takedowns and clinch control to capture a unanimous decision. The win means he might get a title shot against current Welterweight champion Carlston Harris next.
After a last-minute change thrust Hamza Kooheji in the main card of Brave 9, The Pride of Bahrain made the most of the opportunity by dominating a tough Mohammad Farhad en route to a unanimous decision. Kooheji showed improved wrestling, training under KHK MMA’s Eldar Eldarov and was able to stay one step ahead of his rival the entire night.
The win was a homecoming for Kooheji, who received the biggest cheer from the packed Khalifa Sports City Arena, and made headlines all over the Middle East with his performance. He has also put himself in the conversation for a shot at Stephen Loman’s recently-acquired Bantamweight world title.
Even though the judges awarded him a split decision over Erik Carlsson, Amir’s performance received a bonus after Brave 9. He dominated the Swedish fighter throughout three rounds and made history with his latest win. He became the first-ever Brave fighter to hold three victories inside the promotion’s cage.
After finishing Richie Martínez (TKO) and Kevin Koldobsky (submission), Amir showed that he could go hard over the course of three rounds and positioned himself as a top contender in the ever-growing Lightweight division. He might have to wait for a title shot, with the likes of Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady, Eldar Eldarov and Luan Santiago all looking for a fight against Ottman Azaitar, but Amir has put himself definitively on Brave Combat Federation’s history books.