The Desert Force Academy has come and gone with mixed results. Three champions were crowned. Lebanon’s Mohammed Ghorabi won the 77kg Academy Shield in impressive fashion and brute force, showcasing his strength and improved ground game to beat one of the most talented fighters in the Academy. On the other hand, Jordan’s Tariq Hamdi won his fight in controversial fashion, ruining what could have been a great moment and a fitting conclusion to the ultimate underdog story. The Main Event between Thabet Agha and Mohammed Fakhreddine ended in an unfortunate way, but this is the way of the sport. Lebanon’s Fakhreddine becomes Desert Force’s Interim Middleweight Champion after the referee stopped the fight due to a knee injury.
Fakhreddine Vs Agha headlined this amazing fight night in what promised to be a historical fight that evening. Thabet Agha was unknown for Desert Force fans, but very well known for the hardcore contingent. He won the 1st and only season of ADFC’s Al Batal reality show in impressive fashion, showcasing his durability as a never say die fighter against the likes of Georges Eid, his opponent in the final. So it was fitting for him to replace Hashem Arkhagha in this fight to keep with the reality show theme. Weeks before the fight, he suffered an injury to his knee that could have sidelined him for a few months but he chose to fight through it. Unfortunately, it came back to haunt him as the fight wore on, especially with his style of fighting and strategy during the fight. Similarly with Fakhreddine, he also suffered a knee injury 10 days before this fight yet non of the fighters made any pre-fight statements concerning this issue. This shows heart, respect and love for the sport on many different levels. Mohammad Fakhreddine showed the usual aggression off his back and caught Thabet with a huge kick that might have triggered the previous knee injury. Fakhreddine is now the Interim title holder after his win over Agha and will be facing Arkhagha to unify the title.
Sadly enough, those same virtues were not present in the Lightweight “Al Academiya” title fight pitting Tareq hamdi with Elie el Rayyis. Only one of those fighters came in ready for an MMA fight, little is known on what Hamdi showed up for. In what was promised to be an epic match up between the best lightweight in the Academy and the Black horse that came back from a loss to challenge for the title ended up with controversial win for the Jordanian. An unexpected armbar by Tareq hamdi submitted EL Rayyis after being man handled for almost 2 full rounds. This could be seen as a “Never Give Up” situation by alot of the MMA fans. Controversy struck when Hamdi headbutted Elie in what was a clear intentional headbutt in the first round. In round 2 Hamdi delivered a bite to El rayyis’s bicep also resulting in a point deduction! But was that enough? The referee called it a point deduction, and so it is! Hamdi played all his cards and managed to catch El Rayyis in an armbar ending the fight making him the first Al Academiya Lightweight title holder in front of a huge Jordanian crowd in Amman.
The Welterweight Finale was the Creme De La Creme! Team Shogun’s Mohammad Ghorabi faced Morocco’s Azzedine Belharch in an electrifying bout that ended in the first round by way of DOMINATION! Belharch started as the aggressor with two failed submission attempts, a tight leg lock and a full jacket armbar both of which Ghorabi managed to escape from perfectly. Ghorabi’s super power and aggression were key to this brutal finish in what was the most dominant performance in this fight night! What was obvious in this fight is Ghorabi’s dedication and improved ground game which in my opinion makes him the scariest fighter in the Welterweight division!