It’s no mystery. Hashem Arkhagha is one of the best fighters in the Middle East/North Africa region. And having watched middleweights in the UFC, Bellator, and a slew of other MMA organizations throughout the world, both live and on TV for many years now, I can say with confidence that he is one of the best middleweights in the world. The guy is just the total package. He’s relaxed in the cage, he’s got a killer ground game, he’s strong as an ox, and he’s massive for his weight class. Not to mention the guy is tough as nails, and durable. But most importantly, he’s extremely marketable. Indeed, he doesn’t just appeal to his countrymen in Jordan, the home of Desert Force (the MMA organization he fights for), but he’s also Circassian (an ethnic minority that is extremely well represented in the Middle East and in MMA in general). And to top it all off, he is the Desert Force middleweight champ. So then why is it that he was suspended for 6 months (which ends in May) when he defended his student on Desert Force’s Al Acadamiya (a TUF equivalent) after his student was bitten by some ridiculous moron during a fight? The answer is simple… The Jordanian MMA Federation is comprised of incompetent morons.
Now let’s get something straight. I don’t make this statement out of spite or satire. I am an American viewer, and I don’t have any real skin in the game. Instead, I make this statement as an MMA fan, and out of disgust. If you, Jordanian MMA Federation (JMF), want to be a legitimate sanctioning body, you better act like one. The decision you made to suspend Arkhagha was ignorant, inconsiderate, disproportionate, and you obviously weren’t using any kind of logical precedent. To demonstrate this, let’s use a UFC fighter as an example of the JMF’s lack of logic in suspending Arkhagha:
After being KO’ed by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the first round at UFC on FX 7, Thiago Tavares tested positive for “an unspecified PED.” PED stands for Performance Enhancing Drug. Tavares’ punishment for taking a Performance Enhancing Drug for the fight, and fighting with said drug in his system, which could have potentially ended his opponents career, was a mere 9 months!
Now let’s compare that to Arkhagha’s punishment for pushing somebody, once the fight was already over, in retaliation for having bitten his student? 6 months! And the consequences? That 6 month period compromised Arkhagha’s much anticipated title defense, and he was basically shunned by Desert Force. Ignorant, inconsiderate, disproportionate, illogical, and STUPID, are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about it. Hell, even Josh Barnett only got a 6 month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for using something like 3 different PEDs after his victory over Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight strap. Is what Arkhagha did more serious than what the aforementioned fighters did? For pushing a guy who may have been trying to cannibalize his student? Hell no, JMF. Give me a F***** break!
MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, and in a region filled with potential competitors, carelessly doled out punishments like the one against Arkhagha entirely destroy progress. This sport has REAL potential for the millions of young Middle Easterners who may otherwise channel their aggression and rage to other activities that the world frowns upon. This punishment has so many implications for society, it isn’t even funny. But the mere fact that a hard-working, marketable beast like Arkhagha is forced to sit on the sidelines for 6 months because of a bunch of punks who don’t know a fight from a bag of assholes, is pathetic.
What was the point of this punishment? Do you believe Arkhagha learned a lesson? And would a fine not have been enough to deter his unsportsmanlike conduct? Think before you act next time, JFM, especially if you want the world to take you seriously.
George Francis, Esq., is the Combat Sports Analyst & Editor-in-Chief for Fightersrep.com.