Local crowd favourite Ali Ahli will be facing his sternest test yet on the 17th of October when he takes on “The Moroccan Sensation” Anas Siraj Mounir at the Desert Force vs. The World show.
Whats up fight fans, Yousef here again with another edition of “Fighter Breakdown”! This week, were taking a closer look at Ali Ahli. Come fight night, it will be exactly 600 days since he last fought in an Octagon and will mark his 4th professional fight. Any lingering ring rust will have to be quickly put aside by the 23 year old. Not only will he have to worry about a 170lbs opponent trying to knock his head off, but the expecting home crowd will be in attendance and will want to see their star put on a show!
Not that Ali has disappointed them previously. “The Kid” has a 3-0 MMA record winning 2 of his fights by way of decision and handing Malik Omarov his only defeat via TKO. His victory over Omarov was arguably his most impressive since all of the Russian’s previous fights had not gone passed the 1st round.
Anas will be Ali’s toughest fight to date. Siraj has bags more experience and a flawless 10-0-0 record in his professional and amateur career. Although more comfortable on the ground where he can showcase his impressive BJJ (he is a Chekmat blue belt), his record shows he is equally adept at striking. In fact, he has just won two of his fights via submission and 3 via KO or TKO.
Having said that, Ahli is an equally well-rounded fighter. He developed his Muay Thai at Shark Attack gym and then later Top Team along with Abdulmalik Gadzhiev and has recently joined Team Nogeuira where he has worked on his BJJ under the tutelage of Rafael Haubert.
Lets take a closer look at Ahli’s weapons arsenal
Striking and Stance:
Ahli keeps very busy on his feet and is in constant motion during his fights. An orthodox striker, he utilizes an open stance keeping a fair distance between his lead and rear foot to give him more stability. His high stance (notice he doesn’t bend his knees too far) gives him greater mobility and allows him to shuffle around the cage easier.
His stance helps him with his leg strikes. Ahli tends to throw low leg kicks to his opponents thigh or leg and will frequently move to get to an angle where he can throw either an inside or outside kick.
One drawback of Ahli’s stance is that he sacrifices agility for stability. His open stance means that because of the bigger distance between his front and rear foot he can sometimes be slow to check or move away from low or body kicks.
Ahli likes to keep his hands up and will always have his stronger right hand chin high even when moving backwards. Ahli is quite aggressive with right hand when he does decide to unleash it. He can throw a tight right cross but usually prefers to lunge in with a huge overhand or straight right. Those two punches are clearly his favourite as he will throw them continuously.
Ahli does not throw many combos however (or even jabs), which could explain why the overhand/stright right does not land as often as he would like. If he were to mix his combinations or set up his strike with feints and land the power right more often he would have a lethal weapon. His reliance on his strong right does mean that his opponents can adapt to his style and counter strike whenever he throws the punch and leaves his chin exposed, a strategy Luciano Ferreira cleverly made use of.
The power in his hands becomes apparent when he mixes it up. His knockdown of Omarov came after Ahli stepped in with a strong left hook that floored his opponent and swarmed in for the kill.
In a nutshell, Ahli’s stand up game is pretty impressive. He is in constant motion, looking for an angle from which to throw his leg kicks and an opening to unleash his massive overhand right. If the ”Kid” works on his feints and disguises his overhand right then he could inflict some serious nasty damage.
Its going to be very interesting to see ho Ahli’s ground game has developed. Ahli has been training recently with Rafael Haubert at Team Nogueira. Haubert is one of the pioneering BJJ figures in the Emirates and a 2nd degree black belt under the legendary former pride fighter Ze Mario Sperry. Not a bad pedigree at all if you ask us!
You can bet your last dirham that he has been working on his ground game in the last few months.
Ahli likes to go for the clinch after closing the distance with his strike from which he will normally throw knees and will only go for the takedown when he is fairly certain he has the advantage in the grappling department. Otherwise look to keep the fight standing and using the cage fence to his advantage.
Ahli’s takedown defense is sometimes suspect. Against Omarov he was repeatedly taken down after he threw his massive overhand right. His most dangerous weapon does sometimes put him in undesirable situations.
Best chance for success:
Ahli has to keep this fight standing. His strengths clearly lie in the striking department and if he can mix up his striking and work in some feints and unload his dangerous right then he can put Anas in some real danger. He will have to watch out for Anas’ unorthodox striking skills but if he can get comfortable on his feet and keep the fight standing he has a real chance to upset the odds