On the 30th of May at Desert Force 23, the middleweight division was thrown into disarray when the title challenger Yacine Bandoui suffered a shocking submission at the hands of welterweight contender Tarek Suleiman.
Suleiman had stepped in to replace his teammate, the champion Mohammad Karaki, who was unable to defend his title due to injury. His submission of Bandoui was not part of the script.
In light of his loss, Bandoui is now confined to the division’s attic, whereas Suleiman forces himself onto the title discussion table. Training at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Suleiman has lately become part of Team Shogun in Lebanon. To complicate things more, the Syrian fighter has recently revealed his unwillingness to challenge the champion, who also fights out of Team Shogun.
Therefore the Desert Force middleweight division is a shambles. It has been in a state of confusion ever since Elsawi’s devastating TKO defeat to Kuwait’s War Lions Daniel Cooper. An upset of epic proportions for the man who was all set to rematch the champ after Karaki had defeated him in controversial circumstances.
With Elsawi still nursing his Desert Force 22 wounds, Bandoui nursing his pride, and Suleiman unwilling to fight his teammate yet, a window of opportunity opens for Alaa Mansour.
Mansour, 25, has rattled off three wins so far in the promotion, with his latest being a 14 second knockout of Abdulrahman Dridi at Desert Force 22 to bag the Al Academiya shield. He is the former teammate of Elsawi and has earned the magical number “3” position, which usually in Desert Force means, you get a title shot.
The champion Karaki has shown his readiness to fight in the upcoming September card; so have the stars aligned for Mansour?
The MMA gods may be left with no other viable option.