The Desert Force Semi-Finals promised to deliver a night of tremendous MMA, vicious fights, highlight knockouts and bone breaking submissions… boy did they deliver! The Arena was filled to the brim with excitement an hour before the event started with people carrying an array of Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Saudi, Tunisian, Moroccan, Emirati, Egyptian, and Kuwaiti flags! Dancing to the music being pumped out of the large music system, the audience was just waiting for the event to begin to see their favourite fighters go toe to toe with their opponents.
Abdulaziz Julaidan vs. Ahmad Daramki
Desert Force referee Yves Lavigne got the evening under way in the first match up. Julaidan, who was a bit unfortunate to have a decision go against him in his last fight against the Kuwaiti Mohammed Arti, was determined to make sure that this fight did not go to the judges.
Both fighters came out cautiously, circling one another looking for an opening to strike. Julaidan shot for a takedown and got it, ending up in side control but also in a tight headlock by Daramki. Julaidan improved his position to mount and got his head free then threw a few punches from the top. As Daramki was pushing Julaidan away and looking for the escape Julaidan cleverly spotted an arm and in a flash went for it. Daramki was stuck and had to submit 2 minutes into the first round, the arm bar was too deep!
Mallick Quraan vs. Yousef Al Hamad
Home town favourite Mallick came out wanting to improve his professional MMA record to 2-2 and force his way into the 66 KG’s finals! His opponent was Yousef Al Hamad one of Ahmed Al-Houli’s black belt Jiu Jitsu fighters! Striking vs Ground was on the menu!
Al Hamad lead with his long left leg against Mallick, wary to keep him from closing the distance and deliver strikes. Mallick kept on moving in and out aggressively and looking for the opportunity to finish Hamad as fast as possible. Mallick stepped in and delivered strikes to Al Hamad who went to the matt and pulled guard. It was not tight enough to keep the powerful Mallick in! Mallick continued to rain blows from above to the downed Hamad, but the danger of throwing your limbs at a black belt Jiu Jitsu fighter should come with a warning sign! Hamad spotted the opportunity, grabbed Mallick’s arm and secured an arm bar! Although Mallick attempted to stand up and slam Al Hamad, the arm bar was just too tight! The fight ended in a submission win for Al Hamad after 1 minute and 35 seconds of round 1.
Ahmed Al Bousairy vs. Silvester Saba
Arabs MMA correspondent Yousef Nassar had predicted that this fight would go to a decision win. He got that part right, but had backed the wrong fighter!
In what was arguably Al Bossairy’s best performance so far in the ring, he decisioned Silvester Saba in style! The first round had it all, kicks, punches, power strikes, ground game, absolutely everything! As the fight progressed Al Boussairy had Saba in a number of holds on the ground and delivered strikes with his heels to the stomach and back of Saba. This appeared to drain the energy of Saba. By round 3 it was impressive to see Saba still standing as Al Boussairy had dominated the fight even putting Saba in an armbar (which he did not tap to). Al Boussairy rightly won by decision, but it could have been a knockout on so many occasions!
We have never seen Al Boussairy look this good! This fight throws up two questions:
1) Will the real Al Boussairy please stand up?
2) Is there anyone out there who can submit Saba? Between this fight and the one against Haider we’ve seen him in countless armbars but never submitted.
Feras Saadeh vs. Ameer Ismail
Put two big men in a cage who like to brawl and you are bound to see fireworks going off! Especially if its Saadeh and Ismail both of whom won their most recent fights in Desert Force 2.
Both fighters were more than comfortable punching the living daylights out of one another taking turns at knocking each other down and gaining the upper hand in the fight. Saadeh got the mount and began dropping huge elbows.
Saadeh won the fight by TKO much to the delight of his supporters who came in substantial numbers and made a great show of celebrating their warrior after his impressive win!
Mohammad Karaki vs. Abdelali Yachou
Both fighters were hyped up for this battle! An intense stare down between the Moroccan and the Lebanese gave us a glimpse of what was about to happen! This was the opportunity for Karaki, one of the Shogun fighters, to avenge his team mate who lost against Abdelali in round 2 dislocating his arm in the process.
Both fighters came out strong and aggressive! Abdelali opened up with a stiff low kick followed by a front kick that missed Karaki. Karaki punched his way into a standing guard position and the fight went to the ground. Karaki tried to go for a shoulder lock (omoplata) but Abdelali could defend the attempt, take half guard and begin his vicious ground and pound delivering a number of punches and elbows. The fight looked to be called off, Karaki’s blood began flowing freely and many felt it was a matter of seconds before the ref stops the fight or Karaki goes unconscious. Not one to be outdone, Karaki not only managed to defend but also reverse the position to a tight triangle choke and then went to mount position and secured a tight guillotine for the win!
Definite contender for fight of the night!
Abdulkareem Al Selwady vs. Ahmad Ansari
This is the fight many were waiting for! The battle between two Jordanians who were both making their second professional fight! Selwady, the youngest Desert Force fighter, had a traveling army of classmates from his school come out to support him (in case you were wondering they were the ones in the far left corner all wearing white).
Ansari seemed quite clam and composed when he walked out wearing his signature winter hat. Selwady came out roaring accompanied by his three coaches (Hashem Arkhagha, Essa Abu Nassar and his father). After the bell had sounded, the strategy of both fighters became clear. Abdulkareem was going to use his Muay Thai to pick apart Ansari and look for the KO whilst Ansari was going to rely on his counter shots and look for the opportunity to take the fight to the ground. Abdulkareem’s momentum ensured he took the first round however landing several vicious leg kicks and stiff punches which almost overwhelmed Ansari at the end of the first round.
Abdulkareem’s cardio began to pay dividends in the second round as he was dancing around Ansari picking his shots. He inflicted a tremendous amount of damage in the 2nd round cutting Ansari quite badly (some of the blood even reached the judges). By the third round the countless leg kicks began to show, Ansari could barely move and showed tremendous heart to remain standing. Abdulkareem delivered a showtime punch and a huge head kick before Yves Lavigne stepped in and stopped the fight.
Ansari deserves a huge amount of respect for staying in it till the end. Abdulkareem on the other hand showed exactly why he was labeled a “Prodigy” by Arabs MMA by putting on a great show of striking and take down defense. His next opponent, Yousef Hammad, will arguably be the toughest test of his career, but what a great platform to prove himself to any doubters that remain in the final of the Desert Force Championship!
Amr Wahmann – Gabriel Tayeh
What was supposed to be a battle between a BJJ black belt and an elite striker turned into one of the most entertaining fights of the evening! Tayeh began the round looking for the takedown but soon after threw his game plan to the wind and was happy to bang with Amr! Tayeh kept on going forward despite Amr bashing him with huge counter strikes!
At the start of the second round Tayeh attempted to go for the take downs again with Amr defending well. Amr seemed to be able to pick his shots and land them accurately as Tayeh seemingly didn’t want to defend and was hunting for the knockout! One minute into the second round Amr caught Tayeh with a huge uppercut that sent Tayeh rolling backwards on the mat. As he attempted to stand up and resume his attack, Amr caught him with a devastating left kick to the head that left the Palestinian stunned and dazed! Spotting that Tayeh clearly could not defend himself anymore, the referee intervened directly and called off the fight.
A great show by Amr! But Tayeh will be disappointed that he played Amr’s game.
Mohammad Ghorabi vs. Ibrahim El Sawi
Everyone expected a KO in this fight! It was written all over it! And we were not to be disappointed!
Watching these two fighters in the cage they looked like absolute beasts! Huge muscle power and strength! Both fighters started the fight cautiously, looking to pick their shots and land devastating strikes. El Sawi seemed happy to use his significant reach advantage to keep Ghorabi at a distance and use his powerful leg kicks to look for the KO.
Ghorabi had other plans…
Both fighter engaged and as El Sawi got closer to Ghorabi he delivered a punch so powerful that it not only knocked out the favored Egyptian but also managed to send one of his teeth flying into the air! WOW!!!
Ghorabi defied the odds and expectations and was clearly moved at the end of the fight appearing. Talk about making a statement!!! Desert Force have managed to bring in a very exciting fighter to the Middle Weight division!
Anis Hajjajy vs. Bechir Majri
What the best way to announce your debut in Desert Force? By beating one of the crowd favourites!
Bechir was making his third appearance at DFC. Although he was initially supposed to face Ali Naemi who had to pull out due to an injury, he still came into the fight as the favourite. Anis Hajjajy took the fight on two weeks notice flying in from Brazilian Top Team in Boston.
Hajjajy controlled the majority of the fight using his well honed Jiu Jitsu skills. Majri attempted to keep the fight standing but had a hard time defending Hajjajy’s take down and submission attempts. Hajjajy attempted a dangerous kimura and an arm bar which Bechir did well to escape! The decision went to the judges who all rightfully gave it to Hajjajy.
Mohammad Fakhreddine vs. Tarec Suleiman
This fight could have happened the day before at the weigh-ins. It’s no secret that these guys are not the best of friends! As they squared up in the ring and took their last orders from Yves Lavigne their intent to do as much damage to one another as possible was written all over their face (and no they didn’t touch gloves).
Suleiman came out strong controlling the fight with his grappling and takedowns. After taking down Fakhreddine he attempted to capitalize on that and deliver some damaging strikes. Fakhreddine managed to get back to his feet however shortly after. After Fakhreddine attempted a left hook, Suleiman went in for the take down but did not spot the right hook Fakhreddine unleashed! It stunned Suleiman and Fakhreddine went right after him delivering blow after blow after blow to knockout the Syrian fighter cold! It took Suleiman a few minutes to regain consciousness much to the relief of the watching fans.
Fakhreddine surely made a statement! Watch out for this man! He surely is going to deliver a ton of entertaining fights.
Mohammad Arti vs. Haider Rasheed
The main event of the evening was local favorite Haider Rasheed vs. Kuwait Bara jiu jitsu black belt Mohammad Arti!
This fight was a jiu jitsu demonstration of the highest order! Haider dominated the first round, striking and knocking down Arti! He stayed on top for most of the first round delivering strikes and damaging Arti! Haider did not look so fresh at the start of the second however, the effort he put in that first round took its toll and Arti began dominating on the ground and almost submitting Haider after securing a kimura!
The fight went the full distance! Both fighters gave it their best, rolling, trying for locks, striking, punching but a very close decision win was awarded to Haider! The crowd loved it and could not be kept on their seats!!!!
Arti was unsurprisingly irritated, he felt that he had done enough in the last two rounds to win the fight. Some of the crowd agreed with him. Could we have a rematch on the horizon?