It was a day of mixed emotions as we lost three fighters on the second day of the IMMAF World Championships, yet all the fighters went down with honour and did their nations proud.
On this day, Jose Torres of KHK MMA was ever-present doing media interviews, lending support and SBG Ireland’s John Kavanagh was in attendance to coach some of his young, Irish talents taking part in the competition.
For Team Lebanon, Richard Saliba fought the high caliber American wrestler Orlando Jimenez, and MMA debutante Hani Sarduk fought Team New Zealand’s Jamie Cookson. Saliba was defeated via unanimous decision, but fought the fight of his life as he kept the fight at a distance, countering beautifully and throwing dangerous kicks for one-and-a-half rounds before the wrestler landed the crucial takedown and remained on top for the rest of the fight.
Sarduk’s story was heart-rendering and the fight will live long in the memories of those who were lucky enough to witness it.
The Lebanese boy was making his debut in mixed martial arts competition and was only there as a replacement for the injured Imad Hoayek, who was last year’s World Championship bronze medalist. Big shoes to fill, but did he fill them? You bet he did.
Sarduk showed no fear in that cage, pressing forward, changing levels and was finally picked off and TKO’d in the third round after giving the fight of his life – in the first fight of his life, against high level, experienced international opposition.
Team Bahrain’s Abdullah Seena dropped a split decision against a tough-as-nails New Zealander Lath Stevens. It was nip-and-tuck all the way in this fight, which was exclusively wrestling and Jiu Jitsu based, with almost no standup and few punches thrown. Seena was defiant in defeat, stating that he is ready go professional and also spoke highly of his team-mate Fahad Abdulrazaq, who will now compete in his quarter final tomorrow and is the only remaining Arab fighter in the competition.
Seena said of his KHK MMA team-mate: “I expect him to win tomorrow, this kid has a big heart and has improved so much since joining KHK MMA. He’s learned a lot in very little time and has a big future ahead of him.”
Abdulrazaq will fly the flag for Bahrain tomorrow as his scheduled showdown with Nikolay Ivaylov, which will yield a guaranteed bronze medal for the winner, was delayed an extra day.
The KHK MMA fighter, who forced his opponent to retire at the end of the first round of his first fight, said: “I was eager to fight today, but I’m looking at the positives and it’s an extra day of rest and recovery. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll be ready.”