Love him or hate him, the Jordanian Tarek Hamdi is the new Desert Force 70 KG Lightweight Champion. And he accomplished it with style!
Tarek Hamdi, former Desert Force Al Academia cast member, lost his preliminary fight by split decision after giving a good 4 round show and along with it, he lost any hopes of joining the academy. However, Omar Omaish suffered from a leg injury that forced him out of the show. Desert Force officials decided to give Hamdi a chance to take his place instead after his convincing performance. While almost everybody on the show considered Hamdi to be an underdog, the former managed impressive wins against the Egyptian, Mohammad “Ballardo” to make it to the semi-finals. This is where he fought and beat the Lebanese, Sylvester Saba, winning both fights surprisingly, impressively and by unanimous decision to reach the finals.
Tarek Hamdi was surely to be doomed in the finals, fighting against the Al Academia light weight favorite and decorated Sanda champion Elie El Rayess with a fractured arm due to a car accident merely weeks before the event. However, to the surprise of the entire Arab mixed martial arts fan world, Hamdi submitted Elie El Rayess in the second round via armbar. While his win remains controversial due to an alleged illegal headbutt and illegal bite that left a Mark on Elie El Rayess, Hamdi had a title shot for the championship.
In his title fight against Haider Rasheed, the Desert Force champion at 70 KGs, Hamdi, once again shocked everybody by making Rasheed the former champion, beating the black belt by rear naked choke in the second round. Hamdi had earned the Desert Force title crest after Rasheed had stated that Hamdi doesn’t even deserve to be fighting for the title.
Tarek Hamdi gives his thoughts and opinions about his long journey from underdog to champion and the hard road from Desert Force Al Academia to professionalism.
-Did you feel Desert Force Al Academia added anything new to your game ?
Definitely, one of the most important thing Desert Force added to my game is the determination to win.
-Against who was the hardest fight you had at Al Academia ? Why ?
The hardest match was the first match against Mahmoud Said. It was a matter of life and death, and “Ballardo” was a tough guy.
-Did you feel the support of your team members throughout the show ?
I appreciate the great support provided by all my teammates, specially Ezzeldine Belharche who was by my side all the way.
-How did you feel having to face your former team mate on the show and the favorite to win at 70 KG Elie El Rayess?
I was pretty confident I would overcome Elie and win, however I had some doubts after the accident took place.
-What do you have to say about the controversy surrounding the fight (biting and headbutting) ?
Desert Force Al Academiya had relatively more talent and skills.
-Were you worried about facing the former, much recognized champion, Haider Rasheed ? Why ?
I was worried until I heard Haider Rasheed’s comment; after which I became more dedicated to earn the victory.
-What was your strategy to face Haider? Were you surprised to be able to submit him ?
I was ready and fully prepared to face any contender, and I was surprised by Haider Rasheed’s weakness inside the cage.
-What happened backstage after the fight ?
Everything was normal, what mattered most for me was that the shield remained in Jordan.
-Who is your potential next opponent for the title ?
I have no one in mind currently. I am ready to face anyone.
-Did you really believe you can accomplish all of this or is it still a surprise to you ?
I wasn’t surprised. I’m confident of my capabilities, and God is always by my side.