Disclaimer: I apologize for how long this one is. But there was so much that happened on Monday night that one cant help but reflect on everything.
A few days have gone by since the curtain came down on Desert Force 12… And I am still not sure we have all had enough time to digest what happened. Did we really witness a 93 KG Lebanese fighter with curly hair throw “spinning shit” like it was going out of fashion? Did we really see Saif Quandour fight from off the cage and even bait his opponent on even though he couldn’t move? Did we really witness the grappling masterpiece that was Lois Cadet vs Rami Aziz? Did we really see Georges Eid survive a nasty looking armbar that had most of us wincing in horror just looking at it? And of course… did we really see that main event?!
Hang on… lets take a step back. The event opened with what was supposed to be a crowd warmer. Heck the place was at about 60% capacity when Jalel Manai and Hani Chehimi stepped into the cage (I gave Hani the award for best “walk-out song”, Lynrd Skynrd) but you can bet your last bareeze that the 40% that weren’t there missed out on a stupendous performance by Hani. Here was a big Lebo throwing kicks, short elbows, spinning back-fists and whatever other limb he could use to clobber Jalel. Jalel to his credit took a tremendous amount of damage and tried to push the pace and make use of pinning Hani against the cage. Top notch debut!
Click here for more photos for Hani Chehimi Vs Jalal Manai
Trigui continued his rapid ascent up the lightweight ranks with a referee stoppage victory over the vastly more experienced Mohammad Hassan. Dropping from welterweight has worked wonders for this guy!
Click here for more photos for Mohammd Trigui Vs Mohammad Hassan
The third match could arguably go down in history as one of the most exciting matches to have graced the octagon. Hometown fighter Saif Quandour made his debut against Ahmed Sa’eb in what would become an instant classic! Both fighters came out and threw a cluster of strikes in that first round with Ahmed connecting viciously with low kicks and the left high kick. The impact of those strikes didn’t become apparent until the final round when Saif, who had certainly won the boxing portion of the fight, winced in pain and appeared not able to continue. Yves Lavigne hadn’t waived off the fight though so Ahmed pounced and threw stikres that backed Saif into the cage. What happened then is the stuff of legends. Remember that scene in 300 when Leonidas throws his spear at Xerxes right at the end in a show of defiance, knowing that they were about to be run over but still wanting to prove a point that he could make the “God King bleed”? Saif did just that. He stood with his back rested against the cage and fought on despite having zero mobility. Whenever Ahmed would come in with strikes, Saif would throw his punches, some of which would still connect with ferocity! He fought off the cage for most of the third round and even baited on his opponent to “come at him” and held out to the end of the 3rd round. A quote by Napoleon comes to mind – “It requires more courage to suffer than to die”, and boy did he show courage!
Click here for more photos for Ahmad Saeb Vs Saif Quandour
Rami Aziz vs Lois Cadet was the best grappling display we have seen in Desert Force. Period! These guys were rolling and pulling locks like crazy! Shockingly Rami Aziz was disappointed afterwards with his display. He wanted to come out and get a finish and impress his fans on his foray in MMA in the Middle East. Whilst I can understand his thoughts, in a match like that one, full of technique and skill, he came out on top and showed that he deserves his place in the Desert Force Octagon. Hat off to you Rami!
Click here for more photos for Rami Aziz Vs Lois Cadet
Georges Eid made his middleweight debut against Lawin Khalil Mustafa and did a great job of winning the striking exchanges! Lawin, coming back after a two year break from MMA, clearly preferred to hunt for submissions and almost had it with a ludicrous knee bar. Sitting cage side I found myself thinking “shit.. shit.. shit… he is going to break it”. Georges managed to pull through and take the unanimous decision.
Click here for more photos for Georges Eid Vs Lawin Khalil.
Rafat Shawee vs Ibrahim Sawi was a fight that was supposed to take place on the last card. Albeit an injury to Rafat put those plans to rest… Until Monday! A fight with two strikes was bound to end in an impressive finish. Sawi prevailed that day and is now on a two fight win streak. His next opponent will probably be someone right near the top of the division and could potentially earn him a title shot with another W.
Click here for more photos for Rafat Shawe Vs Ibrahim el Sawy
We can be happy that the next fight took place in Jordan. Well, it didn’t have to be Jordan but at least it didn’t take place in Lebanon! The whole Arena would have gone “Spartan” on us! Two heavyweights coming of wins from the two biggest MMA clubs in Lebanon collided when Mark Tanios took on Elias Baaklini! If anyone was worried that Mark would come out and go for the safety first measure they were bitterly disappointed… As soon as Elias went for the takedown Mark unloaded a series of punches that absolutely ground his opponent into the canvas. Mark’s reaction when the referee pulled him off said it all. A world of pressure evaporated off his shoulders in one instance.
Click here for more photos for Elias Baaklini Vs Mark Tanios.
A 20 minute break gave the fans a breather before the main card got underway. The first match out was a meeting between Maher Saloum and Bassel Narmouq. Bassel effectively used the takedown’s and short strikes to his advantage but will have been surprised with his viciousness off his back. Maher was an elbow machine! I think it was a deserved victor for Bassel, I gave him the first round and the 2nd (closer round though) with the third going to Maher but I gotta say.. What were the judges smoking? One judge awards all three rounds to Bassel, another ends it a draw and the third somehow awarded the second round 10-8 to Bassel and forgot that a winner of a round gets 10 if there aren’t any deductions… a 9-8 round otherwise doesn’t exist. Hmmmmm….
Click here for more photos for Maher Salloum Vs Bassel Narmouq
Next Jarjis Danho made quick work of Mohammed Abdulkareem. As soon as Jarjis got that take down it was the beginning of the end as Jarjis is one tough guy to shake off. Imagine trying to shake off a bear?! Jarjis had to ask for special glove sizes before arriving to Jordan… That’s how huge this guy is! Expect violence whenever this man enters the cage!
Click here for more photos for Jarjis Danho Vs Mohammad Abdulkareem
The co-main event… Aaaakh the co-main event. A match up between two top 5 welterweights at Desert Force with a history of dislike between them. A lot of trash talk between both camps ensued before the battle, but this only added to the excitement! Bechir started well but Ghorabi once again proved that you cannot… CAAANNNOOOTTTT…. Allow him to repeatedly strike you. Anyone facing Ghorabi next must try to avoid exchanges with this guy. His hands suck the life out of his opponent and seem to break their will with every punch. There can be no doubt now that man deserves a title shot now.Mounir Lazzez, another hyper exciting welterweight, posted on his facebook account right after the match that “my division just got interesting”… The division is a crazy one… where else do you find Christofer Silva, Aniss Hajjajy, Bechir Majri, Mounir Lazzez, Mohammad Ghorabi, Anas Siraj Mounir, Amr Wahmann, Victor Monfort, Thabet Agha and Abdul Medjedoub to name just a few…. This division is off the charts!
Click here for more photos for Mohamad Ghorabi Vs Bechir Majri
What came next was something that no one expected. Even Tarek Hamdi fans could not have predicted that Tarek would out grapple Haider Rasheed and would end up submitting the BJJ black belt. Come on… Even Ammar who was commentating had to pause for a few seconds before realizing what happened. Mohammed Hosani (who was sorely missed) even posted “Whoooo #desertforce” on his FB wall. The roar (or gasp, depending on whose side you were on) in the Arena was deafening at the end. Tarek made the impossible possible and pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat. Congratulations to both champions!
Click here for more photos for Tareq Hamdi Vs Haider Rasheed.
The only slight disappointment is that we have to wait a while again before we see the fighters back in the cage. If it was up to me or the fans’ we would have Desert Force 13 next month. The shows are getting bigger and better, the fighters are constantly evolving, the fans are getting more emotionally involved… I for one am counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Desert Force comes around again.