An eventful first day at the IMMAF World Championships saw two Arab fighters advance gloriously into the next round, setting up a spectacular day 2 in Las Vegas.
The youngest fighter on Team Bahrain, Fahad Abdulrazaq, surprised everyone with a dominant win over highly regarded Warren Mason of Britain whilst Team Lebanon’s only competitor fighting on the first day, Richard Saliba, also made easy work of his first opponent.
Three Bahraini fighters, Hussein Ayad, Ali Ebrahimi and Mohammed Adnan were sadly eliminated and Abdullah Al Fayez was unable to compete due to a common infection called “Ring Worm”.
But the day will be remembered for two outstanding displays by Arab fighters, one making his debut, Abdulrazaq, and one making a triumphant return to the tournament following defeat in the 2014 inaugural World Championships, Saliba.
Both fighters were dominant in their victories with Abdulrazaq showing superior wrestling skills, slamming his opponent into submission at the end of the first round, and Saliba picking his man to pieces and forcing him to retire after two rounds.
Team Lebanon’s hero Saliba said after the fight:
“I took my time and paced myself so I would not take any damage for the later rounds. I clearly damaged my opponent and left the referee no choice. Tomorrow I’ll take on the American and hopefully you’ll see me in the Expo.”
Saliba’s game plan went perfectly and he took no damage in the fight, not even one significant blow. He will face the American Orlando Jimenez who comes highly regarded and this promises to be a classic battle.
Saliba will be joined on day 2 by his Lebanese teammate, making his international debut, Hani Sardouk, who faces New Zealand’s Jamie Cookson in a first round matchup.
Another man who will fight on the second day is Bahrains Abdulrazag, who was quick to praise his Dagestani wrestling coaches at KHK MMA, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Eldar Eldarov, after his incredible performance.
“Both my coaches are wrestling pros and I love that part of the sport, especially picking my opponent up and slamming them.”
“Most my wins are first round finishes and I’m always looking to finish the fight quickly. Tomorrow will be no different and my actions will speak louder than my words.”
Abdulrazaq manhandled his opponent, Mason, throughout the first round, slamming him twice with a sickening thud and the second slam likely dislocated the British man’s shoulder.
This lead to an easy victory for the Bahraini man who took little damage and will fight Bulgaria’s Nikolay Ivaylov in the quarter final, with the winner advancing to the Semi Final’s, possibly securing a medal for his country as the IMMAF usually grant the bronze medal for both semi-finalists.
The second remaining Bahraini fighter, Abdulla Seen Munfaradi, will face New Zealand’s Lath Stevens. Both fighters received a bye in the preliminary stage and the winner will advance to the quarter-finals.