What are you going to be doing in December? Maybe doing some last minute Christmas shopping? Figuring out what you are going to be cooking for the family come Christmas Eve or even planning your New Years celebrations or writing down your new years resolution? Maybe… but what you will certainly be doing is watching the biggest MMA fight ever to take place in the Middle East when Desert Force Middle Weight champion Hashem Arkhagha takes on number 1 contender and Team Shogun star Mohammad Fakhreddine. Little is known about the event. The date and location are still up in the air but rest assured that the Desert Force team are planning something spectacular that would do this fight justice.
Fans got a small taste of what’s to come at the most recent DFC fight night that took place on the 15th of June. Both fighters came out along with Desert Force CEO Mohammed Mirza to announce their upcoming TV show that will air in August on MBC Action. The show “Desert Force Academia” will pitch two teams of fighters against each other in a style similar to the UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” with both Arkhagha and Fakhreddine coaching and mentoring their fighters in an elimination style tournament.
The bad blood between the two fighters soon became apparent though. “I’m going to break you in half” bellowed Fakhreddine as the scene soon turned ugly with Hashem daring the Lebanese brawler to settle their differences then and there. Without the quick interception of both their entourage’ and even Mohammed Mirza December could have come a lot sooner.
Both fighters have come a long way since their debuts to get to where they currently are. They have pushed through countless training camps, fought numerous opponents, struggled to gain the acceptance of their peers for what they do, and yet somehow managed to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
But if the journey is often said to be the destination, then just how did these two fighters get to where they are today?
Although relatively new to Desert Force fans, Fakhreddine has been part of the MMA community in the Middle East for some time. His first fight here was against the Jordanian Yazan Janeb with the Revolution Fighting Championship where he showed viewers just how strong of a punch he packs after practically forcing Yazan to give up what looked like a promising position by delivering blows to the body and head. The referee soon stepped in! His 2nd fight came against the Tunisian Mohammad Aziz (also under the RFC banner) with Fakhreddine winning when his opponent couldn’t answer the bell of the 2nd round.
It was after this fight that Fakhreddine jumped over to the Desert Force promotion winning his two fights by way of TKO and KO respectively against Anis Gharbi and Tarek Suleiman (the latter a highlight reel KO). This gives Fakhreddine a 4-0-0 record in the Arab world winning by TKO three times and by KO once. He has never gone the distance, heck he hasn’t even entered the 2nd round! What most people do not know is that Fakhreddine also has another 4 fights to his names in the United States where he lived for a while before moving back to Lebanon.
Fakhreddine might come across as a “bad guy” in the ring with his numerous tattoos and octagon persona. Albeit, this is not really an accurate reflection of an athlete who is fiercely loyal to his team and possesses a “strictly no nonsense” mentality when it comes to training and fighting. In fact, one of his many tattoos is a good testament to the his strength of character. A Mohammed Ali quote that glides across his ribcage says:
“Fighters must have the skill and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill”.
The Circassian/Jordanian fighter has an almost identical record to Fakhreddine with 4 wins and no losses or draws. Hashem however has been with the DFC promotion since day 1 and even fought on the inaugural card against Mohamed El Dewansy (winning by armbar in R1) and has gone on to win his next three fights to be crowned Champion!
Although he has been fighting professionally since 2010, that is not to say that the champ was not throwing down before then. The University of Jordan law school student graduate gave his father quite a bit of a headache during his adolescent years and was often caught getting into trouble and fights. MMA and jiu jitsu provided the youngster with the appropriate avenue to vent his aggression in a sporting way and as the champ says “legally get into fights”.
The champion has a balanced record of submission and KO/TKO wins but it was arguably his title fight bout against the Egyptian Ibrahim El Sawy that won him the most adoration regionally for a tremendous show of heart to withstand a broken orbital bone (sustained in the opening seconds of the 1st round) to grind out a win under the most testing of circumstances. The injury was in fact so severe that Hashem had to spend a few months on the sidelines and was not allowed to partake in any contact sport. By the time he faces Fakhreddine he would have gone an entire year without an appearance inside the cage.
In Fakhreddine, Hashem faces his strongest opponent to date. Both fighters have exemplary boxing skills although Fakhreddine seems to have the knockout power. That’s not to say the advantage is with the Lebanese brawler since Hashem definitely possesses the more lethal ground game.
“Before getting in the cage, I know 90% of the win is there. I only have to put in the last 10%” Hashem said in an interview with MySecretJordan, an homage to his tough training camps and preparation. These will be the hardest 10% of Hashem’s career so far. Whatever happens, both fighters can solidify themselves as the number 1 pound for pound Arab fighters in the region.
The biggest MMA fight ever to take place in the Middle East when Desert Force Middle Weight champion Hashem Arkhagha takes on number 1 contender and Team Shogun star Mohammad Fakhreddine.