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October 21 2021 9:54 PM ˚

MMA is taking over in Jordan, one knock-out at a time

MMA Jordan (Photo JOC)
(Photo: Jordan Olympic Committee)
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Amman — The sport of mixed martial arts has become increasingly popular in the local sports community, as many of the world’s most prestigious federations expand their activities to try to reach new areas through tournament broadcasts and shows. اضافة اعلان

The sport is characterized by excitement and intense and frenzied competition among the world’s most talented fighters, who come from different parts of the world with extensive experience in a number of disciplines.

The MMA’s reputation for being raw, (unlike boxing,) and real, (unlike WWE-style entertainment wrestling,) has allowed it to take full advantage of its competitors’ vulnerabilities.

For a generation, boxing’s mainstream exposure has been diminishing as premium cable and pay-per-view became the sport’s principal broadcast methods: in 2015, a rare classic fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had a pay-per-view price tag just shy of $100. 

Big-name boxers have also avoided even-matched bouts to protect their valuable unbeaten records, whereas in MMA, there is a pervasive mindset that publicly shames prominent fighters who repeatedly decline challenges.

For fans, there’s a notion that there should be just enough distance between them and the boxers to allow for guilt-free viewing.

We keep an eye on them through a cage. However, they’re also marketed as Tekken-style arcade game characters: the audience gets near the blood, but not too close.

Here in Jordan, which does not have paid-paper-view, being broadcasted on TV is as big as it gets.

The Open Boxing Championship, held by the boxing federation is taking place this week with little attention, while earlier this year the first big MMA national competition received the attention of people across the nation.

The AFL mixed martial arts league was quantum leap for the sport in Jordan, giving young and upcoming athletes an opportunity to perform on a high level and be watched by thousands of people.

The sport, which has become the second most followed in the Middle East and involves karate, taekwondo, wrestling, and boxing has evolved to become a stand-alone sport with a federation and clubs. 

Fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov have helped introduce the sports to fans in the region and helped get attention of international MMA associations.

The sport of mixed martial arts has seen significant activity in the last 10 years in Jordan, with several fighters benefiting from the emergence of Desert Force.

While MMA continues its rapid spread, it has been around since the 1920s, but officially came to light in 1993, when Brazilian jiu-jitsu dynasty the Gracie family held the first mixed martial arts tournament in the United States, called Ultimate Fighting Championship 1. It was a knockout tournament that ended with the victory of Brazilian legend Royce Gracie.

The sport exploded internationally around 2014 with the rise of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey. Since then, the UFC has started to generate huge numbers in pay-paper-view sales and its popularity has even become a threat to boxing as it has taken the spotlight.

Getting a contract in the UFC has become the ultimate dream of every combat athlete on earth, and Ali Al-Qaisi recorded a historic moment in 2020 for Jordanian MMA fighters, after he fought his first UFC bout in the US state of Las Vegas. Qaisi has also accomplished won medals in the sport of Wushu, Kung Fu, and Sanda, including two bronze medals at the 2015 and 2016 world championships.

In addition, Qaisi participated in two fights in the UFC as the first fighter to represent Jordan in the prestigious organization, and he currently holds the Titan featherweight belt, beating American Andor Whitney by unanimous decision last month.

Fighter Hashim Arkhaga was inches away from being the second Jordanian to fight in the UFC, but lost his welterweight title fight to American AJ Dobson by submission in the first round of the UFC’s Dana White Contender Series.

Dana White’s Contender Series, formerly named Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, is an American mixed martial arts promotion, the UFC announced White would hold the competition weekly, during which, the winners would get contracts to join the UFC.

However, Jordan has had other fighters compete in different leagues. Jarrah Al-Silawy, another big name in the Jordanian MMA scene, won the BRAVE light welterweight title, while Abdulkarim Al-Silawadi won the lightweight belt in the same organization and is now based in the United States, where earlier this year he won his first fight in the US organization LFA.

Recently Hazem Kayyali, a new Jordanian mixed martial artist, won the middleweight gold medal at the Armature World Cup in the Czech capital of Prague, Kayyali’s achievement came just two years after he won the bronze medal at the same championship.

The Jordanian jiu-jitsu specialist represented the Kayyali brothers, which includes his siblings who also practice the sport.

He belongs to a family that loves the sport of mixed martial arts, where his brother Laith fights for the UAE Warriors, while his other brother Zaki recently won the AUFC featherweight belt in Egypt.

Lina Fayyad, the first and only professional Jordanian female MMA fighter is paving the way for generations of female athletes.

Fayyad, nicknamed the Fierce Savage, won her fight in the UAE Warriors Arabia championship in Abu Dhabi in June. The 31-year-old started her career in 2012 and is now a two-time Arab world kickboxing champion.

UAE Warriors, the organization that hosts the most Jordanian fighters, has been nominated in the Best Promotion category alongside other leading companies including the UFC and Bellator in the annual fighters only World MMA Awards.

It is the first time the Abu Dhabi-based promotion has been selected for an international award, which also included Legacy Fighting Alliance and Brave Combat Federation on the shortlist.

Mixed martial arts was one of the few sports to continue in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, and the UAE Warriors successfully staged 10 events during the crisis, which included flying in a number of overseas fighters while adhering to the country’s COVID-19 safety measures.

The AFL Jordanian show was also fully broadcasted and held during the peak of the COVID-19 restrictions.

With all the violence it holds, the MMA has proven how there is still room for other sports to take over as demand is always changing.

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