The Lebanese German Bantamweight MMA fighter, Khalid Taha (10-0-0), is lined up to participate in Rizin Fighting Federation’s Bantamweight Grand Prix, 2017. To be held in Saitama Super Arena, Japan, the GP follows similarly in last year’s schedule. Four bouts on July 30th, four in Autumn, quarterfinals on December 29th, semifinals and finals on December 31st. ArabsMMA caught up with Taha to hear about his journey leading up to the coming event.
The Rizin FF event is arguably the biggest fight of Taha’s career. It is an exciting opportunity for this fighter, who chose the prospect of going head to head with some of the best fighters in the world in his weight class over some other interesting offers. The format of the tournament is something that also inspires enthusiasm for him.
When asked about his training preparing him the new experience to come Taha said:
“I am training more diligently and intelligently than ever to be ready for this fantastic challenge. I even trained twice a day during Ramadan. I am taking this opportunity very seriously as this will be my first fight outside of Europe.”
Japan and MMA
A place where Martial Arts is a lifestyle with many fighting promotions and legendary fighters it is a huge honor and a privilege for Taha to compete in Japan. He grew up watching the likes of Wanderlei Silva in Pride, the predecessor of Rizin FF.
“The way he [Silva] aggressively went after his opponent’s jugular and tried to end the fight as quickly and violently as possible drew me towards MMA. It’s crazy if you imagine that I was only in first grade when Wanderlei was making his PRIDE debut.”
Taha is well aware of the significance and importance of the sport and fighters like Takada, Sakuraba and Yoshida in Japan and have had an impact on the young fighter.
“I have goosebumps imagining I will get to perform on the same stage as they did!”
The effect of being on a card with the ex-UFC fighter Kyoji Horiguchi extra motivation for him, let alone being in the environment of Japanese MMA stars. Though right now all his focus is on hi first round and fight with Ishibashi. He expects this to be the toughest fight of his career and wants to be 100% ready.
For the Rizin FF bout Taha training for the most part at Arena Dortmund where he also teaches classes.
“I am doing a lot of work with Jonathan Brinkhaus, who is a very competent BJJ brown belt. I want to make sure that my ground game is on point as Ishibashi has a very strong grappling-based attack.”
He also plans on “going down to Balingen for a couple of days to get some sparring in with top guys like Alexandros Michailidis, Martin Buschkamp and Mert Özyildirim at Germany’s #1 gym Planet Eater”. He says if he can survive what these guys throw at him, he will be well prepared for Japan.
This german Lebanese fighter tries to visit Lebanon as often as possible. The most recent time Taha managed to visit Lebanon was last winter during the time of one of the Phoenix events. He took the opportunity to go and watch in between enjoying the country life with his family who reside in Tripoli and commented that it was an “absolutely fantastic show”.
When asked about the training and fighters in the country he said:
“I haven’t yet been able to train in Lebanon, but there is definitely some very good up-and-coming talent in the country. Lebanon doesn’t have any UFC fighters yet like Germany, but I believe the top guys like Mohammad Fakhreddine or Mohammad Karaki don’t have to hide from anybody.”
Khalid Taha is riding a 10-0-0 record and has a super MMA career ahead of him no doubt. His fans can expect the best he has to offer. Especially when it comes to his up-coming fight in Japan he states they will see what they haven’t before. It is going to be a show not to be missed.
“I’m going to Japan to knock Ishibashi out and punch my ticket for the quarterfinals. I am going to represent Germany and Lebanon to the fullest and I’m looking to bring action-packed, high-octane fights that will knock people’s socks off!”