Greetings, our dear listeners
and welcome to our first podcast
after a long hiatus since 2014.
Back then, I started a podcast with my
friend Zahi and ArabsMMA.
Now we decided to go back
and start another podcast
about the field of MMA
and martial arts in general.
There’s so much to say about MMA,
and we hope to give you a comprehensive
overview through this podcast
where you’d get to know about
a lot of personalities
who contributed to the growth
of martial arts in the Arab World
or even worldwide.
This podcast is intended to be in Arabic,
but even English speech
will be translated into Arabic
and vice versa.
I’d like to thank the listeners tuning in
to our first podcast for their support.
This is a simple overview
of what this podcast is all about.
As for my first guest…
The moment I thought
about starting a new podcast,
I had several guests in mind for the first
episode including our guest today.
He’s one of the people who helped
grow MMA in the Arab World,
along with his brothers, Zaid Mirza
and Zaid Abu Soud,
who established the first Desert Force
Organization in the Arab World
specialized in MMA.
We’ll get to know our guest better.
I’ll introduce you now to my
esteemed guest, Mohammad Mirza.
Hello and welcome. It’s my pleasure
to have you in this episode.
The pleasure is mine, Hosani.
Thanks for having me.
Thanks for visiting us in your home away from
home, Jordan, to record the first episode.
I’m so glad to be part of this.
If you want something to be ruined
right from the start, I’m your guy.
On a more serious note, I’m really
looking forward to this conversation.
I find great pleasure
when someone in the Middle East
is capable of discussing
important sports-related issues,
like you and I, who have been
in this field for a long time.
You got into Jiu-Jitsu in the past
followed by MMA.
We both have similar backgrounds.
You’re more of a media specialist,
-whereas I’m in the business side.
-You’re also a media specialist.
I also work in sports media and business.
So it’s really a great opportunity for me
to sit with someone from the region
who can discuss the latest developments.
It’s something I enjoy.
I feel like these types
of open ended conversations
help us understand, explore and
delve deeper into what’s going on,
as opposed to
a five or ten-minute TV segment.
So I’d like to explore this in depth,
and I hope the audience likes that.
Hope so. But before that…
Mohammad Mirza, you’re well known and
your name is associated with Desert Force.
But before talking about Desert Force,
I’d like to discuss your background.
In Jiu-Jitsu, especially
in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan…
People in the Emirates
and in the Arab World in general
hear that this martial art
started with a few people in Jordan,
like yourself, Zaid and Samy Al Jamal
Maybe you were the only ones.
I don’t know. I’d like you to tell me
about the history of Jiu-Jitsu in Jordan,
and the difficulties you had
in establishing this sport in Jordan.
I know you were with your father
who was an ambassador in Brazil.
Tell me about this period of your life.
Look, if I want to get into the history
of the Mirzas, Jiu-Jitsu and MMA,
-I need to start with my late father…
-May he rest in peace.
worked in Brazil as a Jordanian diplomat.
He started as a consul
then became an ambassador.
If we exclude the time we
spent in Jordan on and off,
we spent around 12 years in Brazil.
I grew up in Brazil basically.
We played football almost everyday
in Brazil and we were part of teams.
It was important to my father…
for young men to build up their fitness
and strength, especially through sports.
I remember that my father and I were
watching my two brothers playing football,
and Raad’s body was bigger than Zaid’s
when they were young.
Raad was the biggest followed
by Zaid and I was the smallest.
And there’s our sister of course.
When the ball was in Zaid’s possession,
a defender pushed him and it was legal,
but Zaid fell down.
So after the training, my father told Zaid
that he couldn’t just fall down
whenever he’s pushed by a defender.
He advised him to build his strength.
So this is how I started Jiu-Jitsu.
Zaid went to the gym to build up his body,
and realized that all the big muscular
guys were carrying suits upstairs,
so he followed them and saw
what they were doing and liked it.
We went back home and started wrestling
each other, being three young men.
I’m the youngest.
I realized that he had new moves.
It wasn’t just mere wrestling,
he knew what he was doing.
So I followed him to the gym
to see what was going on,
and found out he was playing Jiu-Jitsu so
I signed up for kids’ Jiu-Jitsu back then,
and started getting my training in secret,
so that he’d fail whenever
he tries to use his moves on me.
We started getting intensive
training at the time,
and my father didn’t like Jiu-Jitsu,
he wanted us to do regular sports.
My father studied in Egypt
and he liked boxing and wrestling,
and he tried to encourage us
to practice those sports.
We couldn’t get him to accept Jiu-Jitsu
until UFC 1 came about.
When UFC 1 came out,
we played the video to our father.
He started watching and predicted
that Shamrock would win.
He saw the boxer
and predicted that he would win.
When the Jiu-Jitsu player showed up,
he criticized his fitness and body.
When he saw that the Jiu-Jitsu fighter Royce
Gracie won everything, he was surprised.
Then we made him watch UFC 2.
Royce won again.
And we made him watch UFC 3 and UFC 4
until he was convinced eventually.
-That was before leaving Brazil.
He was convinced at the time.
When we left Brazil,
we moved to other countries…
some had the training facilities,
We went back to Jordan around 2002-2003.
When we went back to Jordan,
we had a friend and a colleague.
My former kickboxing instructor
Tarek Kalimat. He had an academy.
There were some guys training with
him and said he gave Jiu-Jitsu training.
So Zaid checked it out and attended
the training with Tarek
who told him that he was more
specialized in Kickboxing,
and asked him to become the Jiu-Jitsu
instructor and leave Kickboxing to Tarek.
So Zaid said yes. He’s older than
me and more advanced in that sport.
He’s the Jiu-Jitsu founder
and instructor in Jordan.
We started training in the same
building as Tarek Kalimat.
We moved out after reaching
a certain level.
After moving out, Samy Al Jamal
started training in the same building.
We started out our journey with
a small team called Team Mirza,
then we established a federation
and formed a national team.
The team is currently
competing in Mongolia.
Back then, players in the Arab World
started competing in Jiu-Jitsu,
especially in Abu Dhabi.
I think we competed in Abu Dhabi
for the first time back in 2003.
Zaid went along with 12 other
fighters and competed personally.
I competed in the second
championship back in 2004, I guess.
So this is how Jiu-Jitsu started in Jordan
and the Arab World.
My father insisted that my brother…
establish a federation.
Given that it’s a popular sport
that was gaining momentum.
He insisted that he establish an
federation and make it official,
so that no one or any other sport
would shut it down out of spite.
He wanted him to establish
a formal federation…
so things would go through the proper
channels for sponsorship or championships.
This was the best advice we had at
the time, as we were getting started.
Zaid was the coach in all
classes at several locations.
Now there are over 12
academies in Jordan…
run by people who got their training with
Team Mirza starting 2002 and onwards.
That’s almost 20 years.
You mentioned the competitions
held in the UAE.
And I remember the competition
between Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain.
Those were the three countries
that had national teams…
competing at a time when Jiu-Jitsu
was still in its infancy, Mohammad.
All professional Jiu-Jitsu players
had white or blue belts once.
The competitions we used to watch and
love were meant for entry levels, right?
-White and blue belts.
Tell us about this stage.
To be frank, whenever I recall that stage,
until this day…
I realize it’s a once in a lifetime thing.
Regardless of having professional players,
big championships and cash prizes now…
but sometimes we feel nostalgic.
Don’t you think?
I love that stage so much.
But to be clear, I love it so much
because I never lost a match.
Only one guy defeated me twice.
One guy. We played three times.
I won once, he won twice.
Ammar Al Ahmad.
Ammar defeated me twice at open weight.
I used to win. We competed
at the same weight class.
-He would win at open weight.
-What was his belt level?
-We both had blue belts.
We both had blue belts.
I competed in over 50
matches in Abu Dhabi,
starting with Abu Dhabi Combat Club.
I remember at the time…
You were right about us
having white and blue belts…
but Olympic level wrestlers would compete
in the championship sometimes,
or Olympic black belt Judo players.
You were right about us
having white and blue belts,
but the competition was fierce.
No one liked competing against
Hassan Mousa on the mats.
Truth be told.
I remember the match where you
had a young Brazilian instructor,
or a Brazilian trainee, I forgot his name.
-Your main coach was Pedro Galiza.
But he was accompanied by a young man,
I forgot his name.
He competed against Faisal
on several occasions.
-Even on the level of coaches…
-He played against Faisal?
-Maybe it’s Louise.
-I think it’s Louise, yes.
Faisal missed out…
Faisal came towards the end
of this rivalry, so to speak.
I remember Hassan Mousa
winning a championship…
that Zaid won in the same year.
When Zaid started competing
in the Superfight,
I started winning
at the same weight class annually.
But the Superfight was cancelled,
otherwise Zaid and I would have
competed against each other.
-It’s good that it got cancelled!
Other than that…
I remember… Look…
We didn’t like to compete in the UAE
championship to end up losing.
It’s a competition at the end of the day.
We play Jiu-Jitsu, but that was the closest
thing to a serious fighting competition.
We would go with the mindset…
that if we don’t win in a clear
manner, we’d end up losing.
We’d go with that mindset.
Since we had white and blue belts,
we’d get more worried
given that we’re less experienced.
Before the fight starts,
we’d get the jitters,
and feel things we’ve never felt before.
While doing the warm up,
we’d give it our all.
When the first fight starts,
we’d get so exhausted,
yet have another fight in ten minutes.
So, we were still learning and building
up our experience at that stage.
The fans and everyone…
Those who start programs in Jordan,
Abu Dhabi or Bahrain…
need to prove themselves
in those championships.
If it hadn’t been for the success
of Abu Dhabi’s championship,
this program might’ve been cancelled.
The same goes for Jordan.
The same also goes for Bahrain, maybe
they would’ve looked for an alternative.
Back then, it went beyond
just playing for fun.
We wanted to win because
we wanted to stay on top.
So when we competed against the UAE team,
we had to make sure to end the fight.
I remember this very well.
We didn’t leave it to the final scoring.
Especially if there was a tie.
We would try something
even if it wasn’t right.
A tie would hand over
the win to the UAE team.
I’m being real. This is how
we used to think back then.
All judges there were resident coaches.
When it’s a tie, who would rule
in favor of the opposing team?
Those were good times.
We put our hearts and souls in it.
People were yet to be convinced.
When Judo players or wrestlers
would come along,
we had to show them
that Jiu-Jitsu is powerful.
We needed to show them how strong
our guard was against any takedowns.
Back then, losing your guard
was an insult.
Unlike nowadays, where we have the 50/50
guard. The half guard was a bad position.
The half guard wasn’t
a comfortable position.
The generation that came after me like
Mohammad Belbeisi and Abu Soud…
would often resort to the deep half guard.
If I get to the half guard position,
something would be wrong in my opinion.
I never liked the half guard position.
We needed to prove
that Jiu-Jitsu was powerful,
and how strong our country’s program was,
especially since we were playing for
a team representing our family name.
So we needed to go the extra mile.
I used to play with such fervor
in Abu Dhabi.
I think that stage contributed greatly to
the growth of the sport in the Middle East,
If it hadn’t been for the intensity
of the UAE and Jordan teams,
the sport wouldn’t have grown,
and there wouldn’t have been over
20,000 Jiu-Jitsu players in Abu Dhabi,
and over 15,000 Jiu-Jitsu players in Jordan,
and there wouldn’t have
been national teams.
Sometimes in sports,
there needs to be scapegoats.
I think that our generation starting up
had to make more effort…
to pave the way for the sport.
This is the natural course of things.
A professional NBA player today does a
lot more than an NBA star in the fifties.
But that’s normal.
This sport is growing at a quicker pace,
so you don’t feel like
it’s been a long time.
But when you think of it,
its been a while indeed.
A long time has passed
and it evolved so much since then,
taking its natural course
and expanding beyond Jiu-Jitsu.
I’m very happy about this
and how fighters and fans evolved.
You know what makes you feel
like it’s been a long time?
The guys we used to see were
just kids training at your academy.
Including brothers Rasheed, among others.
How do you and Zaid feel…
about seeing your students who
were just kids in school at one point,
having their own academies?
They branched out and
established their own academies.
They also have students who have
obtained the purple or brown belt.
They hold seminars with some stars.
They even hosted Royce Gracie earlier.
Tell me about how you feel…
being one of the founders
of this sport in Jordan…
about seeing the new
generation of this sport?
We see it in the school generation
in the UAE now.
How do you feel about…
Jiu-Jitsu isn’t being taught at schools.
But team Mirza now…
is represented by so many
academies around Jordan.
This is definitely something
we take so much pride in.
Especially Zaid who paved
the way for everything.
I contributed as much as I could…
in terms of participation
and management and business-wise.
In the end, Zaid singlehandedly
helped grow Jiu-Jitsu.
We always talk about this
and Zaid couldn’t be more proud.
At one point, 12 academies in the name
of team Mirza opened in Jordan.
We’ve trained the army for five years.
And some cadets would leave
the army to open up academies.
We don’t just teach people
this martial art,
but we’re providing job opportunities
for people to do what they love…
to build their own future.
I remember training the brothers
Haider and Hamza Rasheed…
back when they were nine years old.
I remember when I took over
the kids’ class from Zaid,
and trained Mohammad Belbeisi,
Azam Al Masri, Haider, Hamza,
Abdulkarim, Abdullah and Rasheed.
I remember all that like it was yesterday.
It’s been 17 years, but I remember it.
Not only do these guys open up academies,
hold seminars and host star athletes…
they also train with the biggest
star athletes in the world.
Hamza and Haider regularly train
with Marcelo Garcia in New York.
They also train with Renzo Gracie
in New York whenever they can.
They meet with John Danaher
and try to host them here.
When we started hosting
our own Jiu-Jitsu and MMA events…
We held a Jiu-Jitsu tournament called
Capital Challenge if you remember.
On the same mat as Team Mirza,
there were Rafael Mendes,
Guilherme Mendes, Kyra Gracie,
and Tarsis Humphreys.
-That’s a star camp.
It was unbelievable!
Mario Reis, Cobrinha, and Tagarela.
The exposure they had
at a young age in Jiu-Jitsu…
and socializing with those stars
helped them so much.
Haider competed in the Superfight
championship in Brazil,
at Copa Podio – Professional Jiu-Jitsu.
we helped this generation
get to a point…
where they can represent
the national team of Jordan…
formally registered as a
federation in Jordan,
under the wing of the Jordan
affiliated with the International
An institution that is formally
recognized, as it is in the UAE.
We compete in Asian Championships
like the one in Mongolia.
Eight players competed, getting
Jordan six medals in Jiu-Jitsu alone.
Congratulations for the Gold medal.
-I heard that Basel Fanous won the gold.
-Yes, he did.
The other players did great,
winning silver and bronze medals.
It wasn’t just a short-lived hobby.
Even those who took it up as a hobby
gained fitness and connections…
in the long term.
But benefitting from this
business-wise is also very important.
I think Zaid should take pride in this.
Even after leaving the federation,
his influence remains as its founder.
Zaid trained every member
of the national team.
He even trained the national team’s coach.
That’s because he started it and
we’re still at the development stage.
We’re very proud of their achievements,
and how they’re making the Jordan
Olympic Committee proud.
That’s very important.
This goes to show the success
of our program,
not only sports-wise, but also
management and business-wise.
All right, let’s move on to a different
stage as we discussed this one in depth.
It’s an important stage.
I think for us…
I was a Jiu-Jitsu fan at that stage.
I was lucky to get into
Jiu-Jitsu at this stage.
I was into MMA before,
but that was an unforgettable
and a very important, crucial stage…
that led to the stage I’d like to discuss.
i.e. Desert Force.
It is the main topic for today’s podcast.
I’d like to discuss the idea.
I think the name Desert Force was an
idea before there was an organization.
I think you came up with that before,
posting it on Facebook or something.
But the name Desert Force was there.
You used it in Jiu-Jitsu or elsewhere.
But I want to know
how you came up with the idea,
what made you build on it,
and pursue MMA eventually.
Generally speaking, the natural course
of Jiu-Jitsu leads to MMA.
This is where Jiu-Jitsu ends up
anywhere in the world.
For instance, the Gracie family
introduced Brazil to Jiu-Jitsu.
It expanded so much that they
had to demonstrate its importance…
through the Vale Tudo fights,
known as MMA.
When the Gracies moved to America
and tried to demonstrate Jiu-Jitsu’s power,
they ended up challenging
all coaches and other sports…
to illegal fights
to establish the power of Jiu-Jitsu.
Jiu-Jitsu came to Jordan through Team Mirza,
and the team started growing,
competing in international events,
starting a federation,
forming a national team,
participating in international events
and training the army.
Eventually, we’d get to the point…
where Jiu-Jitsu is proven to be more
important than other mixed martial arts.
Humans are about constantly building
and improving. It’s an endless cycle.
Was it your intention
to show the Arab World…
since Royce Gracie introduced the power
of Jiu-Jitsu to the world as you said.
Was it your intention to do this
all over again in the Arab World?
No, we didn’t intend to establish
the power of Jiu-Jitsu.
However, we had to take the same steps
in the beginning,
to help the fans understand
what they were watching.
We couldn’t… We tried.
Before I get into how the events
of Desert Force started.
You asked about the name of Desert Force
and everything associated with it.
We introduced Desert Force…
when UFC announced hosting the first
event in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
We wanted to host our event in 2010,
and UFC wanted to host its first
event in Abu Dhabi.
While taking care of preparations,
someone passed away in our family.
Things didn’t go as planned, so we
postponed it to the end of the year.
We made an announcement in 2009.
However, we hosted our first
event in December 2010.
It was supposed to be sooner.
We started it because we wanted Arab
fighters to participate in UFC Abu Dhabi.
But they lacked experience,
and UFC wouldn’t let them
participate in any match.
This rejection made us turn to organizations
other than the UFC to take those fighters.
Not even world championships.
We started sending fighters to local
tournaments in exotic locations.
But they had no record of other
fights or any experience.
We’d send them records of Jiu-Jitsu fights,
kickboxing, boxing and wrestling…
-but they wanted MMA records.
So we had to develop MMA in Jordan,
the same way we developed Jiu-Jitsu.
Back to your main question, we didn’t
intend to establish the power of Jiu-Jitsu.
But for Arab fans
to understand this sport…
we had to simplify it,
the same way UFC started.
By the way, and sorry for interrupting.
I want to talk about current
MMA fans, not the old ones.
There’s a strange connection.
The UFC was established by Jiu-Jitsu
fighters like Rorion Gracie.
The idea of MMA…
You said before that Luta Livre started
because the Gracies were willing…
Not just them, even members
of the Carlson Gracie team…
were willing to represent their sport
against other martial arts.
The good thing is that there’s
a Jiu-Jitsu team in Jordan too…
with members who love Jiu-Jitsu…
taking the initiative to start
an organization for MMA.
Why don’t kickboxers, boxers,
or other martial artists…
have this kind of initiative?
Why do massive initiatives
such as this one…
always come from people
with a Jiu-Jitsu background?
I don’t have a conclusive answer,
but I have a theory on this subject.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the few sports…
Before becoming so popular,
back when UFC started.
It wasn’t classified as a sport,
it was just a fighting style.
Even the scoring system of the fights…
The tournaments were still new back then
as well as the scoring system…
which was based on the effectiveness
of the position in serious situations.
The mount position…
is the best one to hurt your opponent
without him hurting you.
The back mount is also
the best position…
to hurt your opponent
without him hurting you.
So these positions score higher…
which are based on what
could happen in reality.
Other sports stepped away from reality
and the fighting aspect.
They turned into mere sports.
When you knock out an opponent
in wrestling, it’s over.
When you knock out an opponent
in Judo, it’s over.
You score a point when your leg touches
your opponent in Taekwondo,
unless it was a knockout.
And the same goes for Karate.
This leaves us with Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu.
They remained violent with one player
standing and another one on the ground.
In that sense,
these sports had to prove they
were better in terms of fighting…
than those other popular sports thanks
to the Olympics and similar events.
That’s why Jiu-Jitsu players
always try to prove that point.
They say, “Look, you no longer know
how to fight. You’re just playing sports.
What is the point of touching
the opponent to score?
Knock him down.
Put him away from his element”
That’s why Jiu-Jitsu represents
fighting in general.
Because Jiu-Jitsu is always
the source of these things.
The same goes for Muay Thai
but they’re more conservative…
because the Thai government wants
to keep a tight reign on Muay Thai.
-This isn’t the case in Brazil.
The Gracies want to expand.
So, where were we?
I’ll tell you what you were talking about.
You were talking about UFC
and that stage…
when you planned to host a tournament
in 2009 but had to postpone it to 2010.
-I call it, the Roya Channel Stage.
Tell me about that stage.
I think four tournaments were hosted
during the Roya Channel Stage.
Please tell me…
did you have any difficulties
looking for fighters?
Did you have a hard time finding mixed
martial artists in the Arab World?
Or you brought mixed martial artists
to compete as in UFC 1, 2, 3…
where a kickboxer would fight
a Jiu-Jitsu player and so on?
That’s what I was getting at.
We didn’t want to establish
the power of Jiu-Jitsu.
We didn’t get mixed martial artists
to play against Jiu-Jitsu fighters.
Even though this is what
ended up happening,
because most Jiu-Jitsu fighters didn’t
mind doing mixed martial arts.
Sometimes at the end
of the Jiu-Jitsu training…
everybody takes off their gis
and the training gets tougher,
as they always include real training
for fighting and self-defense,
they don’t just stick to scoring.
So in order to help the fans
understand mixed martial arts…
we had to speed up the process.
In the first Desert Force tournament,
we arranged for ten fights.
Five were Arab and local
and the other five were international.
So those five International MMA fighters
were more experienced,
and the five Arab fighters were novices.
We made a Taekwondo champion
fight a wrestling champion.
We made an Egyptian Muay Thai champion
fight a Lebanese wrestling champion.
We made a Jiu-Jitsu champion fight
against… I forgot who it was.
A Kung Fu champion.
-But where did you find them?
Did you look them up on YouTube
No, we were in touch with academies
and federations at the time,
and their contacts…
to ask them if they knew someone who was
willing to participate in such a fight.
We made contacts…
when organizing tournaments
for the past ten years,
and travelling abroad for championships
in the past ten years,
and the coaches and federations
I cannot look through YouTube to find ten
willing fighters who turn out to be good.
It came organically…
based on our experience
and presence in the market.
So we hosted the first tournament,
hoping that the five foreigners
would show the fans…
how the five Arab beginners should fight.
-Was I clear?
So the Taekwondo champion
fought against another champion,
and we started seeing knockouts
and submissions left and right,
and the crowd went wild.
Moving on to the five important
fights at the time.
-The five international fights.
A Brazilian vs. a Russian, an American
vs. a Spaniard, a Japanese vs….
People started leaving.
They were there to watch the Arab fighters.
They didn’t want to watch
Sasha vs. Anthony.
They didn’t want that.
That didn’t work.
We had ten Arab fighters,
so we decided to work on them.
Hold a Grand Prix to make champions.
And after making those champions,
fighters would get into this and try out,
and we would bring challengers
to the champions.
So we agreed to hold the Grand Prix event,
and find around 40 or 50 Arab fighters
of five different weight classes.
We found them and broadcasted the Grand
Prix on Roya TV when it first launched.
I’m thankful to Roya TV as it was
what we needed when starting out.
So we found the fighters.
At the time we had Hashem
Arkhagha, Ibrahim Elsawi,
Haider Rasheed, Silvester Saba
and Elie Al Rayess.
Those started out with you.
-Since the MMA stage.
In Desert Force 2 which
was the main Grand Prix.
We brought them and started hosting
tournaments in Jordan,
specifically in the Orthodox Club.
At the time, there were
Kung Fu Sanda fighters.
They realized that the style included
stand up fighting and throws,
and ground fighting too.
Their ground fighting isn’t that good,
but Kung Fu Sanda has throws…
-As well as stand up fighting.
So we started getting
many Kung Fu fighters.
We were getting many wrestlers
and Jiu-Jitsu fighters.
But we didn’t get many
boxers or kickboxers.
We weren’t getting many, but we
started getting the fighters who…
perform well whether they win or lose.
Like Ibrahim Elsawi.
Ibrahim Elsawi won championships
in Muay Thai and Kickboxing in Egypt.
But the reason why
we made Ibrahim fight regularly,
is that his fights are always exciting
to the audience, no matter what.
Whether he wins or loses.
We started seeing these things.
Sometimes, a guy who has won ten wrestling
championships would contact us,
but we wouldn’t let him compete
in the tournament.
When we get someone who has a Muay
Thai record of 100 wins and 100 losses,
we’d go for him…
because we needed something
to attract people.
Again, that was an early
stage of that sport.
We couldn’t assume that people who were
interested to learn about this sport…
would understand what it is right away.
They needed to understand that Jiu-Jitsu
fighters are different from wrestlers…
and boxers prefer
the stand up fighting style.
If a boxer gets knocked to the ground,
he’s dead meat.
He wouldn’t know what to do.
He’d be suffering on the ground
Jabs would be pointless,
the ground wouldn’t help him.
Okay, got it.
In the next match,
he wouldn’t end up on the ground.
If that happens, he’d come up quickly
and have a chance to win. Let’s see.
As a viewer, you’d understand the growth
of the player whom you’re giving a chance,
and start watching.
We held the Grand Prix to build up
those ten fighters who came first,
and get the fighters who became
interested in us in the first tournament,
who didn’t know that this existed in
the Arab World and decide to compete.
So we held the first Grand Prix.
We went through the quarter
finals and semi-finals…
Between the second quarter
finals and semi-finals,
we started negotiations with MBC.
At the time, three companies
were negotiating with MBC.
Desert Force, the last to come.
There was a Jordanian entity
at the time in control of…
And the third company
had a CEO called Randy.
It was based in Abu Dhabi if you remember.
-Offering a million Dirham prize won by…
-Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship.
-Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship.
The three companies were
negotiating with MBC.
While negotiating with MBC,
everyone was negotiating with FX.
Since Nilesat had FOX and FX at the time,
and UFC had just recently signed with FOX.
All eyes were on FOX, thinking they’d
have exclusive MMA coverage.
That was before the reality show
called “Al Batal.”
Was Season one before
or after signing with MBC?
It was aired on FX, if memory serves me.
It was aired on FX.
“Al Batal” was aired
around the same time…
ADFC was there before us,
but didn’t have Arab fighters.
ADFC would offer a million Dirham prize
and there were no Arab fighters.
-Right, there were a few old names.
-Yes, old names.
By the way, the winner of Grand Prix…
He’s competing in the next UFC
championship in Abu Dhabi.
-When I saw his name…
-He’s competing there?
He’s competing there. Can you believe it?
-I was surprised by that.
-I’ll tell you why they’re bringing him.
It’s because they think
he has fans in Abu Dhabi.
-Therefore, his fans would be there.
They don’t get it.
If there are no Arab fighters, Arabs
won’t be interested in the championship.
I don’t understand how they think.
Anyway, we can discuss this later.
Where were we?
You said you were negotiating with MBC.
However, during these negotiations…
Did MBC representatives say…
The brand, in your opinion, was it
Jordanian, as in local, or regional?
That’s my question to you.
The brand was established in Jordan.
However, when did your goal become
regional as opposed to being local?
Was that after the second
tournament, the Grand Prix?
-Or since you signed with MBC?
-It was our goal all along.
From the beginning, our plan was to give
fans a regional Arab championship,
and then gradually make it international.
Anyone can provide this room with proper
lighting and get two fighters to fight.
One named Vooko and another named George.
One would be from Latvia
and the other from Spain.
That can be done easily.
Light up the room and make
two fighters fight and film it.
-It’s not rocket science.
This process is very easy.
But it does not promote your own brand.
We had to show viewers the growth
of the sport in a rushed manner as I said,
so that they’d be interested in fighters
and want to watch them,
and learn about new fighters
whom the tournament promotes.
If you don’t go through this stage,
you won’t make it.
We were realistic about the fact
that we needed Arab fighters.
We discussed this in depth.
“Why don’t we get foreign fighters? I have
connections in Brazil and America.
We know so many fighters.
Why not get them to compete?
We can get MMA fighters, the same
way we get Jiu-Jitsu fighters.
Why not do this and become
Doing this when you’re here…
is far more complicated than
doing it when you’re there.
If you were in Brazil or America, it’s
understandable to use these contacts.
But you’re in Jordan, so you need Arab
media outlets to promote your brand.
This won’t work with Braulio
vs. Tarsis Humphreys.
But when you get Mehdi from
Tunisia vs. Ibrahim from Egypt,
display both flags on the screen…
where there’s a cage and nowhere to run
and they must fight,
no one would turn on the TV
and change the channel.
Don’t try to tell me otherwise.
There’s no way.
Regardless of your nationality,
if you were from the UAE…
and saw a Moroccan vs. an Algerian,
you’d like to watch.
If you were just changing channels,
you’d like to watch that.
So we were realistic about this.
We needed to be Arabs
and that’s what made us unique.
ADFC, Abu Dhabi Fighting
Championship in Abu Dhabi…
was giving out prizes
but had no Arab fighters.
Cage Warriors wanted to get into the Arab
region with a big English name.
They wanted to introduce the region
to MMA, but there were no Arabs.
So what set us apart
was that we Arabized MMA.
If we hadn’t made it for Arabs,
no one would have cared.
We would have been
just like any other brand.
But we made it for Arabs
emphasizing on Arab fighters,
to promote the sport,
fighters and academies…
so that the sport would grow big.
And when it becomes big enough,
we could get foreign fighters.
This was starting to happen
in the last season of Desert Force.
That was the plan
but we didn’t have the time…
to execute the second part of our plan.
When it comes to negotiations…
You said that part of the reason why
MBC signed with you…
was your objective of Arabizing MMA…
and concentrating on Arabs.
-That’s one reason.
There was one more important thing.
When I did the presentation…
for the manager of MBC Action
at the time…
I was there with Zaid Abu Soud.
We did the presentation using an iPad.
I took the iPad inside
and showed him a fight.
He saw two fighters coming in.
He heard the cheering for one
and the booing of the other one.
He saw them making an entrance
and dancing to Arabic music.
The player is Arab, his coach
is Arab, the judge is Arab,
the championship is Arabic,
the organizers are Arab,
and the opponent is Arab.
Then they went into the cage…
He started seeing sponsors like
Nestlé Toll House, Burger King,
Luminox Watches and Fiji Water.
He asked me where we were
getting those sponsors from.
We work on this.
We go out and we get the brands we know.
We get sponsors…
because without them, the sport
would go nowhere in the region.
He said, “Okay, when is your
We had the semi-finals at the time.
Abu Soud and I looked at each other and
said, “When do you want it to take place?”
He called the Advertising Manager,
the Marketing Manager,
and the Manager of the Legal Department.
He called all parties involved…
saying, “We have a tournament in Jordan,
when will be the best time for you?”
While we were sitting there.
He said, “Would March work for you?”
I was in England getting my M.A.
in Sports’ Management.
Unfortunately, due to my hectic schedule
of negotiations and tournaments…
I didn’t complete it.
I didn’t complete my M.A.
because I got deeply involved with work.
My apartment in England
was basically an office.
I had posters of fighters
and their contracts everywhere.
After classes, I’d take care
of the work related to Desert Force.
I’d be lying if I tell you that I was
trying to get an M.A. in England.
For Desert Force, I used the help
of all professors and faculty staff…
of the Sports Management faculty
in the Loughborough University.
Before negotiations, I’d go to the
head of faculty to ask for advice.
My life revolved around this.
I no longer wanted my government job.
This was my passion
and I was able to monetize it.
I could see it has a good future.
We invested all of our time in it.
Is there any difference between…
negotiating with a channel like MBC
and Roya TV for instance?
What were the differences?
-Was it more difficult?
-They were very different…
because Roya was still new,
so we had to reach out to the company’s
heads right from the start.
They were cooperative,
and they wanted to grow their channel
and brand at the same time.
We were all new to this.
Listen Hosani, I’ll be frank.
You’re talking about Desert Force
and how everyone saw it on TV,
it became a household name
and became popular.
In the end, we were just three guys…
competing in tournaments in
Abu Dhabi, playing Jiu-Jitsu.
We would always put on our Jiu-Jitsu
suits and wrestle like the old days.
Soon we changed our Jiu-Jitsu gis, put
on formal wear and started negotiating.
Before going to MBC,
I didn’t know what they were talking
about in terms of TV business.
I had no idea what they
were talking about.
This is how true success stories go.
You’re passionate about this sport.
We would go to meetings
and try to learn as much as we can,
but in the end, you only learn
by experience to be honest.
We would get advised.
The best advice I got was said by
the head of the faculty in England.
I told him I had negotiations, so I asked
how things were supposed to work.
He said, “What do you mean by that?”
I asked him about what to say
and what not to say.
He said, “I’ll tell you one thing
Nothing is forbidden.
Nothing is too much
and nothing is too little.
If you think something could work, use it
If they want you to hold
an event in Finland,
and you could start a war
to cancel it, do it
There are no rules to govern
the discussion or agreement
That was reassuring.
There’s no protocol.
I wasn’t worried about protocol.
He would ask a question
and I’d give an unrelated answer.
That was okay. I wouldn’t
answer if I didn’t want to.
I wasn’t obliged.
But before getting this
advice, I didn’t know that.
I thought it was similar to a debate
where each person would take his time.
We were young and it was a big deal.
We struck a deal with Roya
and aired four events with them.
MBC Group attended the fourth one.
They made up their mind
right there and then.
When they attended the live event
seeing 2000 people cheering in the stands,
and the sponsor banners around
the cage and on the ground,
and saw people wearing
T shirts for sponsorship…
they realized there were fans,
money, skill involved…
and a team that could handle that.
We started negotiations at that point.
When we started with Roya,
it was a small company…
so we started with the heads
of the company.
Whereas with MBC, we were three guys
who changed into suits and went for it.
We spent eight hours
at a conference room in a hotel.
They had us meet with five
The Marketing Department, the Legal
Department, the CEO’s administration…
We spent eight hours
just meeting with people.
It was overwhelming for us.
But at the same time,
we were three confident men.
We had no issues with that.
I remember something…
maybe the guys will laugh when
they hear it, but I have to say it.
Say it. Don’t hesitate.
One time, we…
The legal department would discuss legal
matters with us,
and we didn’t know how to respond.
We had a lawyer and his partner.
We brought the help we needed.
We’d look at each other not knowing
what to say, so we’d ask to be excused,
go out and have a word with each other.
Anyway, this would happen often.
One time, we were winning the discussion
so they asked to be excused.
We were pleased. We thought
we scored in the negotiations.
They went out to discuss things,
while we stayed and played a video…
of a Brazilian song on
the big screen, the projector.
The video clip was completely
inappropriate for a setting like that.
We were laughing and joking around,
when they came inside with serious faces,
looked at the screen then looked at us.
We were looking at them and laughing.
They shook their heads, saying they
didn’t know how to communicate with us.
That was exactly what we wanted,
because we’re not on
the same playing field.
I admit, I couldn’t discuss these matters.
We had to take them out of their comfort
zone into a different zone altogether.
We played this song to break the ice,
and talk to them in a more casual manner.
Negotiations with both
parties were different.
The negotiations with MBC Group
were an unforgettable lesson.
Did they ask you to target a niche market?
I mean, what…
Did they ask you to target
the Saudi or Egyptian market…
or they said they wanted a brand that
represents all Arabs and Arab countries,
without targeting a niche market?
A market with high spending
capacity for instance,
or any other market based on population?
Were there any…
statistics or studies involved?
When we started negotiations with them,
they cleared this up, since everybody
needs to know this.
MBC is a Saudi network.
Its main market is the Saudi market.
It’s true that most regional countries
tune in to MBC and their channels.
However, Saudi Arabia
is their main market.
If they don’t reach the Saudi market,
they wouldn’t be achieving their goals.
When we talked, they said
we were in line with their plan.
MBC Action, instead
of buying Western content…
including TV shows and movies,
they wanted to get local content.
They conducted a study that lists
five things Arab men love.
Car racing, fighting or action…
Excuse me, they were three things.
They cannot give them
anything related to sex.
They cannot even broadcast
So they aired the Arabic
version of Driven.
And aired Action Ya Dawry
about the Saudi League.
When it came to fighting,
Desert Force came along.
An Arabic version.
That was the plan to give Arab men
everything they love in one channel.
So they found Desert Force
to be in line with their plan.
Unlike ADFC or Cage Warriors
or RFC which was in Jordan at the time.
They don’t have to say it,
but Saudi Arabia is important to them.
This goes without saying.
Saudi Arabia is important to us.
In terms of business, your brand needs
to be successful in Saudi Arabia too.
They didn’t ask us to target
a certain market.
When touring the region, we got
to choose where to go, not them.
Do you think the Saudi market in the
region is similar to the American market?
There’s a saying that goes, “When you want
to make a sport or anything else popular
if you make it popular in America,
it’ll be popular worldwide.”
Is Saudi Arabia a trendsetter
Does running a successful project in Saudi
Arabia mean it’ll be successful elsewhere?
Would a successful project in Saudi Arabia
be successful in other Arab countries?
I don’t feel it’s necessary for something
to work in Saudi Arabia…
for it to work in the Arab region.
On the contrary, I feel that
if it works in the Arab region…
Saudi Arabia would follow suit.
Very few of the franchises in the Arab
World come from Saudi Arabia.
Most of them come from outside the Gulf
and reach Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.
They could do well there,
but not necessarily contribute
to establishing the brand.
You’d only go to Saudi Arabia
to utilize their purchasing power.
-And the same goes for the UAE.
But you don’t necessarily start there.
It’s good if you make it there
at a certain point in your career.
You can’t spread awareness
only through TV.
You need to mingle with people
and build relationships, you need to…
Go see them in person. When we
held the first tournament in KSA,
we had an open training for anyone
who wanted to get into mixed martial arts.
70 people joined.
They performed in front of me,
I watched them and assessed them,
I talked to their trainers and all.
That’s something you have to do
so people could feel it.
Out of those 70 we have seven left,
and I’m happy.
If these seven are still training
and teaching others, I’ll be happy too.
So, this is essential.
Okay, let’s move on to match arrangement,
or match making.
You said you joined MBC Action at the time
of the Grand Prix, or the championship,
based on the weights, in order to have
an Arab champion in the organization.
So, it’s on.
But I want to talk about the match making,
because I consider that…
I don’t know, a science or an art,
It might be one of the hardest jobs,
As a fan, I can choose
which matches to watch,
but when it’s a job,
and you’re responsible for ten matches,
and if we’re talking about the whole year
they could be 100 matches,
so it’s an art to choose who will fight
who, based on several criteria,
age, record, or many statistics
you might have.
But I want to know,
with regards to the Grand Prix,
and choosing the best fighters in the Arab
World to represent the different weights.
How did that process or system start?
We reached the main Grand Prix…
On Roya, we reached the semi-finals.
At the end of that event, I was sitting
with the head of MBC action,
as well as the head of the advertising
department on MBC action.
He’s the one who brings
in the advertisements.
There was also the head of marketing,
The tournament was over,
and they said not to hold the final round.
We’ll do the finals.
We started the negotiations,
the negotiations came to an end,
then it was September when the
finals were supposed to be held.
That’s September 2012.
We had the semi-finals in March.
Two months before that they said
they didn’t want to do the finals.
They wanted a new Grand Prix tournament
so the fans would understand,
Arab fans, not only Jordanian fans.
So, we felt that was unfair for the
fighters who made it to the finals,
who were supposed to be crowned
So, we decided to crown the champions
and start a new Grand Prix,
to bring challengers for the champions.
But again, there’s no established rule
in MMA that you have to do that,
unless it’s the Grand Prix and winners
fight winners until they reach
a certain trophy.
But generally, there’s no rule,
whatever works, goes.
So, we started to do that, and Ibrahim
El-Sawi was to do the final match
against Hashem Arkhagha.
These are the most memorable names,
I don’t think I’ll remember the others.
So, these two had reached the finals and I
didn’t want them to go back to square one.
We had them established in their markets
in Jordan and Egypt.
It’s unfair to make them start all over
again because we moved to MBC.
And also we can show the fans that
there are differences between fighters.
Champions and challengers have a bigger
value than those who are starting off.
So, when it was time to pick fighters
for the new Grand Prix,
it had been two years
since the first tournament,
and there was a lot of interest in it.
We had Arabs from outside the Arab World,
expats who wanted to do MMA.
We had fighters from the Arab World,
who were practicing this sport,
but nobody knew about them
because they have nowhere to practice.
They started to participate in small
tournaments here and there.
They wanted to do something like
We were happy with that, because
they literally fought a match or two
that let me assess their level
and pick them right away.
It was so easy to pick fighters.
So, I was the match maker
in the beginning.
Among other things, like doing
negotiations, doing TV interviews,
book flights, everything.
As I said, we were only three guys.
It wasn’t before three years
that we started to hire people.
We were three guys doing everything.
And we had experience in this sport,
which is very important.
I like that you were only three,
that was the case with UFC too.
Right. That’s right.
So, we were three guys
with fighting experience.
We picked fighters and found out
what excited people and what didn’t.
It’s easy. It’s true that each of us
had a different taste,
for example when someone like Abu Suoud
sees an MMA fight on the ground,
he cheers like nobody else does.
I might not get that excited about
a ground Jiu-Jitsu fight in MMA.
But each one gives their opinion from
their perspective and we reach a decision.
So, picking fighters is easy, but how
to put them together in a tournament,
we relied on the record,
on the experience we had with them,
on the matches where they replaced
So, in the first stage,
match making wasn’t that important.
The match making became important
after the Grand Prix.
Because if someone fought against someone
in the quarter-finals,
they didn’t have to fight each other,
I could take another finalist,
in order to make the final match
more exciting for example.
Because in the system of tournaments
like the Grand Prix,
you don’t need to do match making,
because winners play against winners,
-But we never showed them
on TV so explicitly,
so that if I didn’t like the match
in the quarter final…
-Yes, I understand.
-I would switch them.
That’s in order to make the final match
more exciting, to build the fighter,
and to see which of the fighters
have a large following.
Back then, social media was starting
to become more powerful in the region,
we started to see who had followers, who
had fans cheering them in the weigh-ins.
To see if there were fans waving
the flags of Kuwait or other countries.
We started following these things
for it’s not just about
who deserves to fight.
There are others factors,
it’s a business in the end.
Everyone should understand that.
In the end, I want two fighters
who will attract a bigger audience,
in order to increase my market value
and be able to get more sponsors,
in order to make money.
We’ll talk more about this later,
but you mentioned the match between
Hashem Arkhagha and Ibrahim El-Sawi.
The first fight for a title
in the Arab World, and still to this day,
the most viewed Arab MMA fight
in the history of the Arab World.
Why do you think it was that?
I’ve just learned that
the planning was done in Roya’s phase.
Was it because of the story that began
during Roya’s phase between them
and reaching that fight
against each other?
Was that the reason why the match
attracted such a big audience
on YouTube and on TV?
There were two reasons why that
match was so popular.
Actually, three reasons.
First, we built Hashem in a very good way.
Hashem’s first encounter with this sport
was when we held
the capital challenge in Jordan
and all the Jiu-Jitsu players I’ve just
mentioned came to participate.
Hashem was a volunteer
who picked the fighters at the airport
and drove them to the hotel.
That was how he got introduced
to the sport.
After that, he started coming
to Team Mirza to train Jiu-Jitsu,
and he started to watch MMA
and boxing matches,
he developed a love for boxing.
And he started practicing
and winning everything,
like the white and blue belts
in the region and even in Europe.
And he started going to boxing clubs
to challenge their boxers.
He has a highly competitive spirit.
We promoted him through websites,
TV channels, magazines.
It’s the tournament creator’s role
to promote the sport and the fighters.
And to promote the matches.
It’s their job, to create a story.
So, he’s the Jordanian champion,
or let’s say the Jordanian face of MMA.
And then there is Ibrahim El-Sawi.
His matches were a K.O after another.
The match was in Jordan and the Jordanian
fans were intimidated by El-Sawi.
Is he coming here to knockout fighters
left and right?
What would happen if he knocked out a
Jordanian fighter in front of 5,000 fans?
So, people were intimidated by El-Sawi.
El-Sawi did his part.
And we expected both fighters
to fight for the title.
Their title was magnified.
It wasn’t just a final title anymore,
the entire Arab World was watching.
But, there’s something I want to say,
I think Hashem Arkhagha is more popular
than any other fighter.
Why do you think that is? Even when he
came back in Brave after a long time away,
the interaction by the fans was
exceptional with him as a fighter,
although he disappeared for a long time,
but he was still a star,
for the Jordanian audience.
Why do you think that is?
There are many other Jordanians
who are still fighting,
and who have been fighting for years.
That’s what I’m saying, Mohammed.
We invested in promoting him.
In addition to that,
Hashem is a sociable person.
He doesn’t go to the gym for eight
hours every day then go home.
He mingles with people,
he works hard to build himself.
He works, he looks for sponsors,
he meets people.
He doesn’t just go to the gym
for eight hours and then go home,
eat, sleep, wake up, repeat.
There are other things to work on,
and he did that.
He’s an intelligent young man, he’s now
a lawyer at a big company in Jordan.
-Hashem doesn’t need MMA.
-That’s news for me.
He doesn’t need it. Hashem can just
work from nine to five every day,
but his competitive spirit, as well as
opening a new gym he needs to promote,
all that pushes him to do this.
In the beginning, he wanted to pursue it.
But he doesn’t need MMA.
If this doesn’t work for him,
that doesn’t mean his life is over.
But his competitive spirit is just great.
He likes to challenge himself and others.
We saw that competitive spirit
in the match itself.
The first kick was clean-cut
and right on point.
That’s the third reason.
Look, I had two fighters in the history
of Desert Force who would fill the arena,
those were Haider Rasheed
and Hashem Arkhagha.
The two competed for who sold more tickets.
Imagine what a great competition
that was for me.
Those two were the only ones
who understood the game, as a business.
To this day.
I used to tell them that I couldn’t give
them a pay-per-view like in America.
But if you can have a full house, I’ll
give you a percentage of the ticket sales.
The rest of the fighters weren’t willing
to expend any extra effort
to promote themselves, sell tickets
or convince people to come,
and they wanted their salaries
and free tickets as well.
Those two, however, worked hard.
They’d have their brothers, cousins,
and friends create ticket stands,
which they would pay for,
in order to sell tickets and garner fans.
And I would reward them.
The most-paid fighters until this day
were Hashem and Haider,
because they filled the arenas.
Any event with Haider or Hashem
would be sold out.
And when MBC came to watch us,
I put them both in the same tournament.
To be sure that…
The atmosphere was something else.
The atmosphere was something else,
there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
Not a single one. It was sold out.
They both gave me the money
from the tickets by hand.
They asked me to count it
in front of them to see who won,
so they’d settle it between them.
The rest of the fighters didn’t want that.
The rest want to train and eat,
in other words be a “gym rat”,
never leaving the gym,
so they’d fight in a tournament where they’ll
stand in the locker room afterwards
and ask for their money, and then go home.
If you tell them to promote themselves,
they get offended.
If you tell them about a press conference,
they get angry.
If you tell them to do a weigh-in,
they get upset.
Work on yourself.
You got me to a question I wanted to ask.
-I didn’t answer your question, right?
-No, you’ve just brought it up.
There’s a lot of criticism, we’ve been
so nice on this podcast so far, but…
I must bring this up,
because I heard a lot of things.
And you sort of brushed up on it now.
There has been criticism by the fighters
that Desert Force didn’t treat
the fighters well,
financially speaking and other aspects,
how they dealt with them, and so on.
That was most of the criticism I heard.
You mentioned one aspect of that.
You distinguish Hashem and Haider
as the ones who understood the game,
in your opinion.
-I sensed you were implicitly criticizing
some of the fighters who couldn’t
reach the level of those two
-in understanding the game.
-All of them.
Not only some of the fighters.
I can give you names.
All of them, and clubs.
And managers, when some of them
started to understand how this works,
they hired managers from their clubs.
They saw that in other sports
and wanted to apply it to MMA
without understanding it.
I’m not the biggest MMA guru,
but I started it.
I created it, I know where it’s going
and where it was.
I’m driving the bus.
Okay. Each fighter would come and say
they deserve to be paid so and so,
and they work this hard,
and they are entitled to so and so.
Okay. Now I’ll take off the Desert Force
hat and put on the fan hat.
The fan or the follower pretends to care
about how much a fighter is paid,
and what they get and so on.
But in the end,
they don’t care about that.
In the end, fans want a fierce match,
a story to bring them to the match,
to make them watch it
and get excited about it,
and they want the fighters to act on it,
and by act on it I mean to bleed.
They want them to suffer.
They want to see a strong match.
They want to see what
Hashem and Ibrahim did.
They don’t want to see a fighter
get down on the ground for five minutes
and take points for three consecutive
rounds, they don’t want to see that.
I’m talking as a fan.
I want to see a kick to the eye
that knocks him down
and then see him getting up again,
spit blood, and have a big shiner.
That’s what I want to see as a fan,
I don’t care how much money you make.
After that, he earned it.
He got 10,000 or 5,000 or 2,000,
he earned it.
Before that, he didn’t care.
Now let’s put on the Desert Force hat.
Okay, suppose you’re a fighter with me,
Let’s suppose I came to Abu Dhabi
and held an event
in a venue that can accommodate
But I barely had 1,000.
There were only seven people wearing
T-shirts with “Hosani” written on them.
And those seven tickets are free.
Nobody wants to come watch you fight?
If I took a piss on the street
I’d get 200 spectators.
Nobody wants to see you?
If there aren’t 200 people who want to see
you, not even your family and friends,
why would I want you?
If your own friends and family or anyone
you know weren’t willing to pay $10
to watch a match you’re in on TV
and cheer for you,
why would I want you?
Did you measure that by the number of fans
in the venue you’re at,
or social media or the ratings on MBC?
First of all, we watched the TV ratings.
Secondly, social media,
and thirdly, the live audience
and their excitement.
-For a certain fighter?
-Well, we always…
Let’s start from the third year on.
We started to change
how we viewed the fighters.
For example, we had 10 or 20 fighters
on whom we were to focus that year.
Okay? The match makers we had,
the first match maker we had was
Ashraf Shishani, then Yusef Nassar,
and then Taher Al-Hamdan.
The match maker would tackle
all the athletes except those ten.
Those ten we handled ourselves,
Because we had coordinated with MBC
to promote those ten.
Following their stories,
promoting their social media accounts,
their fights must be more highly promoted,
and so on.
What was I saying?
Your criticism of the fighters who
demanded high pay.
-Without bringing in…
Okay, as I told you, we monitored these
things, social media, TV ratings,
fan attendance, their interaction,
But when Desert Force grew,
when we had millions of fans on MBC,
and I must thank MBC for partnering
with us throughout this project.
They could see who had a high value
and who didn’t.
Now, I know I’m saying a fighter
has a certain value,
and you might say I can’t say that
because they are human beings,
but I must tell you, it’s a business,
so for me a fighter is either one or zero.
They don’t have names.
There is an emotional side for sure,
and there’s history and everything,
that’s for sure, but in the end,
decisions are made based on numbers.
But people criticize you saying
it’s a violent sport
and it harms the fighters physically
on the long run,
or even the short run.
And when you divide them
into ones and zeros,
-you dehumanize the sport.
-I have to.
-Do you agree with that?
I have to do that.
When I used to do Jiu-Jitsu in Abu Dhabi,
train for months and lose 20 kg,
and participate in tournaments, how much
was I paid for winning the first place?
$500. And I would be over the clouds.
I’d take the $500 and go tell my dad
I didn’t need pocket money for a month.
I thought it was a lot, I won that money.
Do you expect me to start martial arts
in the Arab World with American rates?
-Of course not.
-With European rates?
With Japanese rates? With the rates
of developed markets of this sport,
where the sport itself is more evolved?
I can’t do that.
-They have things to help them there.
-I agree, but let me finish.
I told you one thing in the beginning
when we were talking about Jiu-Jitsu.
I said that there’s always a generation
that is sacrificed
when a sport is evolving.
The first generation of Desert Force
fighters had to be sacrificed,
while the champions eventually
ended up with good salaries.
Now, new companies are paying more.
Do you know why the new companies
-Because I talked to them all
before they started.
They asked me how much I paid
and I knew when they came sniffing around.
They wanted information,
they’d fly in 80 people
to watch what Desert Force did backstage.
And I would kick them out.
They would have someone take photos
of what we did.
We would kick them out of the backstage area.
Our guys would be embarrassed to do that,
thinking they were guests.
I would go and tell them
to take their camera and leave.
They would ask me how much
I paid the fighters.
I would tell them it’s five times
the actual figure.
Now they pay that.
-Because you gave them a big figure.
They pay that now.
Therefore, they became a money pit.
The first one, Phoenix, only lasted
for four events and then left.
They were sponsors for Desert Force.
Stick to what you’re good at.
Stick to marketing.
They had two events then there were
legal issues and they left the country
and the organization was shut down.
In the other organization, Brave,
they spend more on the fighters,
but they’re getting nothing in return.
The only event with a full house
was in Jordan.
When Desert Force had an event
in Bahrain, it had a bigger turnout.
How could I do better than you
in your own country?
In Jordan, they built on what we did,
they haven’t done anything new.
They got wrong information
and they are over-paying.
I’m sorry if the fighters there say
it’s their time and their life, I agree.
You deserve the best and you
deserve all the money in the world.
But if we’re talking business, in terms
of what you bring in or the company,
and what I can give you,
80% of the fighters in the region
I’m sorry if this offends the fighters.
A certain fighter asked for a salary
of $5,000 for fighting,
towards the end of Desert Force.
We negotiated for a year.
I told him to take tickets
and try to sell them for once.
For once, try to invest some effort
He said: “I don’t want to sell tickets,
it’s your job, not mine”.
My job is also to pay my assets a salary
proportional to what they bring in.
I’m hiring you to make profits.
Someone might say this is akin
to human trafficking, it’s not.
This is sport, it’s the same in football.
We bought Mbappe to make profits.
We bought Christiano Ronaldo
to sell T-shirts.
I’ll pay him, but he’ll make me
a $100 million in yearly profits.
Messi will be paid $102 million a year,
but he’ll make me $100 million.
The same applies to MMA.
Hashem and Haider brought it profits,
so we paid them more.
Go to KSA and hold a match for a Saudi
fighter, nobody would come to watch him.
Go to UAE and hold a match for an Emirati
fighter, nobody would come to watch him.
What do I do then?
Give money away left and right?
Do I do like Conor McGregor? What do I do?
I know they get upset,
and they have every right to be.
They must have that money because
they work hard to improve themselves.
But you have to makememoney too,
because I give you the platform
to demonstrate your abilities
and your work,
to evolve and develop yourself.
If you can’t take advantage of that
platform to benefit yourself and me,
then I have no use for you.
I have no use for you.
Do you think that was a main reason
behind the fighter’s rebellion…
-At Desert Force?
Rebellion is natural. I hired match makers
because I didn’t have time to respond
to 88 fighters every day.
And the fighters don’t talk to you
during work hours.
They don’t talk to you between
nine and five.
A fighter would call
after his training, in Morocco,
at 2:00 am when he’s having dinner
with his trainer after his workout,
and he’d call me then.
Or in Cairo or anywhere else.
Would you rather deal with managers
instead of dealing with fighters directly?
I’d rather deal with nobody at all.
I’d rather give them a written offer,
and they can agree or decline.
There’s no time.
I don’t have time to negotiate
with the fighter after every match.
We had 88 fighters towards the end.
You signed a contract for six matches.
Do I have to go into a discussion
after every match? I can’t.
Wasn’t MBC a part of these contracts
with the fighters?
Never. They had nothing to do with that.
MBC has nothing to do with anything
technical related to the sport,
and our involvement in the TV show was…
-Let’s say, 70 to 30.
If we used a percentage, it’s 70% to 30%.
And that was the reason why Desert
Force was so successful, honestly.
If we wanted the product to be too sporty,
we would lose the interest of the fans
who didn’t know much about fighting.
So, when we improve the TV aspect
of the product,
we attract more fans.
So, you think the athletic aspect and the
entertainment aspect are equally important
because you were also criticized
for the way you introduced the product,
which was more about entertainment
than it was about sport.
In terms of hosting the show with a female
host in the cage at the beginning,
unlike other sports, the commentators,
backstage interviews and all that.
There was an entertainment aspect
with provocative questions sometimes,
because you used some characters,
such as the football show host,
-I forgot his name.
-Farraj, Waleed Farraj.
and the other lady from Iraq I think.
I mean, they weren’t MMA figures.
Do you think this warrants criticism
by the fans?
Whatever you do,
the fans will criticize it.
I can’t make everyone happy.
I can’t make the people happy,
although it’s one of my major goals,
but I can’t keep them happy all the time,
nor can I keep the fighter happy
all the time.
I can’t keep myself happy all the time.
I can’t keep my employees happy
all the time.
Every day when you leave your house,
you must know that you’ll make someone
upset by the end of the day.
There’s no way a day could pass
without making someone upset.
I was dealing with over 100 people every
day, between fighters and employees.
If I don’t make 10% of those people upset,
then it’s a good day.
Now, you’re saying there’s criticism
for the guests we host, OK.
But let’s look at it from a different
perspective, why did we do that?
Well, this is a new sport to the region.
And a new TV channel.
The TV channel wants to benefit from that
by promoting the sport and promoting me.
We were holding tournaments,
recruiting fighters, doing shows,
and we had a good viewership.
What can we do to increase the viewership?
Let’s take other shows,
important figures you have,
and host them in our show,
so the viewer who doesn’t know
much about MMA
would say: “That’s so and so,
what is he doing there?”
“He attended the match
and wrote good things about it”.
And they speak like they don’t understand.
So, sometimes you have to host
to explain it to the fans
who don’t understand.
In the Arab World, we have
the martial arts community,
Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, Kick Boxing,
Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, etc.
They can see all that at Desert Force.
And they understand
the technical aspects of it.
I want the football fans.
What is the biggest football TV show
in the Arab World?
One of the biggest is Waleed Farraj’s show
on MBC Action.
So, we asked Waleed to attend
the event, commentate on it,
promote it a little,
talk about it on his show,
share its news. And he said yes.
Okay, the host of Driven, the automobile
show, I want the automobile fans.
In 2015, Desert Force,
according to a study I have,
in 2015, the second most-viewed
sport in the Arab World was Desert Force,
More than tennis, more than WWE.
More than Formula One.
You know, I think we were the third most
viewed, because there was cricket,
and it wasn’t Arabs that watched cricket,
but Indian and Pakistani expats,
to be honest.
The second biggest sport, that’s great.
I want to host people from the world
of basketball, Formula One, and football.
I needed them to promote my sport
and my product.
It might bother the hard-core fan
who understands the game,
but it’s fine, try to put up with it,
so we can grow the sport together.
Why does UFC bring Shaquille O’neal
to attend matches and make videos?
Why does UFC bring… Why?
Because he’s Dana White’s friend? No.
They want to use him to promote their
product, this is why we do these things.
Okay, we elaborated too much about that.
I want to talk about something important,
The Academy isn’t a new idea in MMA,
but you had some new ideas,
especially the military training
in the second season, among other things.
Tell us about the experience
of The Academy
and how you proposed it to MBC Action.
By the way, before we talk about that,
there’s something I’ve just learned,
I don’t remember the names
of former fighters,
but I found out that one
of The Academy’s graduates
is a current MMA champion,
at UAE Warriors,
and that is Amin Ayoub.
A Tunisian who currently holds
two title belts.
In two different weight categories.
I was surprised he was in one of the
seasons, and he lost the final,
-he didn’t win The Academy’s title.
So, when you watch these shows again,
at the time you would criticize
the show and say it’s all acting.
Many people criticized it
for involving a lot of acting,
or saying the fighters weren’t up to par.
But when you watch these shows again…
We talked before the podcast about some
of the matches we watched before,
and how the way we view them now is
different than how we viewed them before.
Tell me about the idea of The Academy
and how you proposed it to MBC Action,
and your take on the outcome of that show
four seasons later.
MBC knew very well
and we understood equally well
the importance of the sport-related
reality TV show,
The Ultimate Fighter from UFC,
and their relation to Fox and Spike.
Because UFC was on Spike,
the UFC paid all the money to be on Spike,
and after the first season
of The Ultimate Fighter was a success,
Spike reversed that and started paying
the UFC to stay with them.
That was a major turning point
for the UFC,
as they went from being 40-millions
in debt to actually making money.
So, they knew that, and they were afraid
the same would happen with us and them,
that we would use MBC to grow
and then leave them.
So, we tried to balance the sport aspect
with the TV entertainment aspect.
We offered that instead of having shows
to analyze matches and whatnot,
as we’ve tried all that,
instead, we thought of combining sports
with entertainment in a reality TV show.
That way, we would attract people,
they’d get to know the fighters better,
they’d move forward,
and it’s great to have the first reality
TV show of its kind in the Arab World.
Al Batal show was starting
at the same time.
Al Batal even had the same sponsors.
Until the second season when we told
the sponsors it’s either this or them,
so they chose us and Al Batal
That’s how we came up with the idea,
that we wanted to combine both things,
and we had to fill the broadcast time
and we wanted to stay close to the fans
and have them follow our stories
and see what we were doing.
We also wanted our stars
to be promoted further
so we could have bigger matches,
and have a bigger following,
and to have bigger viewership,
which means more sponsors.
Thus, with The Academy, there was
more space to have more sponsors,
which means more money.
So, that was the reasoning behind it,
and to help our fighters grow.
We couldn’t keep bringing in fighters
to Desert Force
who had a record of a match or two,
to fight against more experienced ones.
So, we did The Academy to develop the
fighters who wanted to join Desert Force,
as an amateur tournament,
so they’d be ready when they joined
So, that was the principle.
That’s why there was an athletic aspect,
which is developing amateur fighters,
giving them opportunities.
And there was an entertainment aspect,
by having them on TV
and creating stories,
even stories for the future,
for matches that haven’t happened yet,
-But you let…
You said it was for amateurs,
but in the second season, you let it go.
I saw that you let Mohammed Ghorabi in.
Mohammed Ghorabi was in the first season.
Mohammed Ghorabi played one match
only as a substitute at Desert Force.
But there were fighters who joined
the professional world,
and then we suddenly saw them in…
Such as Ahmad Labban, for example.
Ghorabi came to us
from another organization,
and it was a test.
Now, he won his professional match,
we let him in as a professional,
but then he was demoted to The Academy,
because we needed him to grow more.
There’s no problem with that,
I’m just saying that even…
In other reality shows like UFC’s.
They’re all professionals.
For example, Silvester Saba,
he’d been with us in three tournaments,
and I told his trainer that I’d either
let him go…
-Or he goes to The Academy.
-Or he goes to The Academy.
To get another chance, and if he came
back with the fame and the results,
-that would be good.
But it didn’t work for him.
It didn’t work. So…
That’s why we came up
with the idea for The Academy.
The Academy was great, honestly.
It’s true there was some acting,
that’s a must.
80% of reality TV shows are acting.
We had much less acting than that,
maybe 20% only.
Out of all the things we did in
The Academy, especially the first season,
there was one certain thing
that was an act, in the first season.
-What was that?
-That was the prank,
which Silvester Saba pulled
on Ahmad Shadow, or…
-Yes, from Egypt.
When he shaved his hair
while he was sleeping,
or hid somewhere and startled him
and the other started screaming.
Silvester Saba had arranged it
with the cameraman,
even the way Silvester talked was clear.
But the Egyptian guy didn’t know.
So, that was the only acting
in the first season.
When Hashem jumped over the cage
and beat one of the fighters,
and when 30 men climbed over the cage,
all of that happened in front
of Zaid and me,
had our microphones been working
at the time, as they had to beep us out,
you would’ve heard how true that was,
it was 100% real.
We still have a lot of time,
but let’s talk about…
I won’t say the end of desert force,
as I don’t know what the future holds.
Will the company make a comeback? But…
Since you mentioned what happened
at The Academy,
it’s true that after the scene
you just mentioned with Hashem
and the beating inside the cage,
that was sort of a farce by the fighters,
in terms of sportsmanship,
even by some of the trainers
who were present at the event,
and it was talked about a lot back then.
There was also another case
during the weigh-in ceremony.
It was between Osama Al-Saeedi
and Mustafa Rashed, I think.
Some altercations took place that crossed
the lines of good sportsmanship.
Did these things bring the end
of Desert Force,
-as they led to losing some sponsors?
-They had nothing to do with it?
-Not at all.
-No, not at all.
-It was completely the opposite.
-They liked that.
-It was completely the opposite of that.
-Then tell me.
Those were the best things
that happened to Desert Force.
But we’re talking about the entertainment
element over the athletic element.
Sure. What happened between
Osama Al-Saeedi and Mustafa Rashed
was broadcast by most of the respected
news anchors in the Arab World.
They loved it.
If you saw me in the video you’d see
that I was about to interfere and stop it
but then said why would I?
Let them be.
Let them be.
And because of that video that was out
12 hours before the match,
it led to an unexpected surge in
attendance in Jordan for that tournament.
-A match between two Egyptians,
one lives in Kuwait and the other in KSA.
That wasn’t supposed to be
a full-house event in Jordan.
But it was. When Hashem did what he did,
there was a discussion online,
and his hashtag “Arkhagha” was trending.
Although he was suspended
and he was angry with you.
He was angry with us and we suspended him
and gave him a financial penalty,
and his fans didn’t go silent about it.
Neither those who criticized him for it
nor those who supported him.
It was trending.
You might call this a problem,
but it’s not a problem.
If you want a problem, the real problem
was Brave’s last event in Jordan,
they had a title fight,
and they had several fighters
from the organizer’s team,
two of them tested positive.
Two fighters from the club
of the company’s president,
tested positive for steroids.
One of them refused to do the test.
The documents are available online,
I’m not divulging a secret.
Muneer Lazzaz, who was most affected
by that, posted the documents.
He managed to get the documents and post
them. Such problems can end an organization.
Not too much exposure.
When you’re talking about two fighters
from the organizer’s team
testing positive for steroids,
that indicates unfairness in the sport.
We’re still waiting for the company’s
response about that, but…
Since you brought this up,
let’s talk about it briefly,
this is only found in Jordan now.
The Olympic committee,
and tests for MMA athletes aren’t
I was surprised that the committee
sent a letter
and official measures were taken,
that somebody refused to…
-That’s also something that…
That put Jordan in the lead
when it comes to this.
Honestly, I didn’t expect anyone to be
tested in any MMA event in the region.
You did that in Desert Force,
but I didn’t expect that
after the end of Desert Force
-this would go on.
-It wouldn’t work otherwise, Hosani.
We know the history of the sport.
In America, in UFC,
everyone used to take steroids.
We know, we’re part of this community.
The guys that started Desert Force
and started MMA as a sport in the region
were Mohammed, Zaid and Zaid.
We are involved in the fighters
and MMA community.
We practiced this sport,
we’ve been in tournaments,
we’ve trained others
and were trained by others.
We were young, we grew up,
we’ve been through it all.
We knew what we were doing
because we were a part of it.
We didn’t just learn about it recently
and took a liking to it
so we decided to start it
and spend a few millions on it.
We know what’s fair and what’s not.
I’m going into a tournament fighting
against a man with all my might,
yet I can’t even undo his grip.
I weigh 90 kg.
There’s no way a 90 kg muscular man
can’t unfurl one bicep.
Test him, and he’s positive.
Because I’ve seen that before, I know it.
I’m not just excited about a new fad
and willing to spend money on it
to make profit.
-Let me ask you a question…
-I’ve done this all my life.
I won’t have someone fight
with another fighter from a certain team
and then have a reaction to the steroids
he’d taken and collapse on stage.
Not as an organizer nor as a federation.
Let me ask you, it might not be related
to you but maybe you know the answer.
Did Brave know there would be tests?
-Before organizing the tournament?
First, I must make it clear that I have
nothing to do
with the Jordanian Jiu-Jitsu
or MMA federations.
I used to work as a consultant
from time to time,
for certain projects, such as
preparing the ground for MMA.
I was involved in that project.
Getting the MMA committee into the
MMA International Federation IMMAF.
We were the first Arab federation
to join the IMMAF,
and I was in charge of that project
as a consultant.
But I’ve never been a registered member
of the federation.
Another project I worked on was creating
the form for the event’s organizer.
If someone wants to have an event
in Jordan, he has to fill a form,
he has to sign a contract
and make a commitment.
Especially if it’s a professional
If you agree to the contract,
that means you agree to the penalties.
And it means you agree
to the advantages and the disadvantages.
As far as I know,
they signed on everything.
And they agreed to everything.
Now, the ball is in their court,
what do you want to do?
The champion of your team
and of your organization,
who ran away from the steroid test,
the one who took steroids,
who cheated against Muneer Lazzaz,
a hard-working man,
one of the best Arab fighters,
if not the best.
He works hard to improve himself,
and you want to harm him so you can
promote the champion or your trainer?
Or do you want to do the right thing?
We’ll wait for their response
and give them a chance.
I want to be fair, so I’ll give them
a chance to respond.
Let me be honest, Hosani.
You’re talking about Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.
I intend to do what you’re doing,
I want to do another podcast,
format or a YouTube channel,
not only to talk about MMA,
but other sports too.
What other MMA news is there
in the region right now?
Why isn’t anyone talking about that?
The two fighters from the same team
at the same event
who tested positive for steroids.
How come you’re not saying anything?
The man worked hard,
he hasn’t lost any matches,
he was aspiring to become a star and
compete in international events,
especially now that UFC events
will be held in Abu Dhabi
every year for five years,
there will be major events.
That’s the chance one gets from
participating in an event like this,
and you want to ruin him?
To promote your champion or your trainer?
That is something a man who didn’t expend
any effort on the sport would do.
That’s something that would
be done by an organization
that doesn’t have any members who worked
on establishing the sport in the region.
That is the floundering of an organization
that doesn’t know
how to develop the region.
Let’s be fair, maybe they didn’t know…
Maybe he harmed his team’s reputation.
Maybe the team didn’t know about it.
-We’ll wait for their response.
-They must prove it.
-It’s been almost ten days.
Wasn’t there any correspondence between
them and the Olympic committee?
-Maybe there was.
-I’m seeing things.
I’m seeing the public statements
just as you see them.
I don’t talk to anyone in the federation
to know what’s going on.
It’s none of my business,
I don’t want any part in that.
But when someone comes, who hasn’t
worked on developing the sport,
someone who knows the fighters
and the people,
I didn’t like to bring a lot
of Russian fighters.
Do you know why?
He doesn’t want to do promotion.
Muneer did all the promotion
for that match.
I didn’t bring in many Russians.
It’s so easy to bring Russian,
Brazilian, and Japanese fighters.
It’s the easiest thing in the world.
But that wouldn’t help in promotion,
nobody would know about you.
He only comes after the match
asking for money.
But you signed a contract,
you’ll get a bank transfer, wait for it.
These things show you that sometimes
someone rides the wave,
thinking he’d just do what others do.
But he doesn’t know we have a 17-year
experience in this sport.
What are you here to do?
I still want to give them
a chance to respond, honestly.
-We could get a response soon.
-It’s in the letter.
-But before that,
for we’re running out of time.
Did Desert Force come to an end
due to disputes between the trio?
Well, no. There was a dispute in the end,
but everyone must know
that Zaid Mirza is my brother,
and Zaid Abu Soud is a relative of mine,
he’s my cousin’s husband.
He’s not only a friend,
he’s like a brother to me.
He’s one of Zaid Mirza’s best friends.
So, whatever problems we have at work,
it won’t turn into a family dispute.
But, yes, there was a business dispute,
among other things that happened
over the course of five or seven years,
which led to disputes, but…
The reason Desert Force ended wasn’t a
dispute between the two Zaids and myself.
The reason Desert Force ended
was that we had a partner in the end
who was working well with us,
and we felt like he was
only a partner in profits.
When the partner doesn’t care
about developing the business,
if he doesn’t help in that,
and if he hides information from me,
and lies about other things,
and puts pressure on you
to give up some things,
then that’s a partner who doesn’t want
to benefit you, only benefit from you.
So, towards the end, we had an unhealthy
relationship with MBC.
MBC had Choueiri Group
which sells their TV ads.
Choueiri Group is responsible for 80%
of TV ads in the Arab World.
If Choueiri Group doesn’t like something
or doesn’t like how something is done,
they get upset.
And if they’re upset,
MBC will cancel your show.
Choueiri Group used to bring sponsorships
for us and them,
but we didn’t get our share from them.
The sponsors would come complaining to us.
And they would deny it.
Mohammad, you were talking
about Choueiri Group,
and the problems
you had with the partners.
I don’t know whether you can
legally discuss them or not.
That’s up to you,
but tell me more details about
these problems with the partners.
I remember you had a deal
with Ford, a very big company,
and many other companies,
including food companies.
I think Burger King was at the Academy.
Were these relationships
built by you or MBC?
Who negotiated those deals
with the companies?
It’s true that we’re from
a sports background,
rather than a commercial one.
But we were able to open
every door in the Arab World.
There was no one we couldn’t reach.
We could reach any company,
chairman, or CEO.
But when someone tries to keep
you from reaching certain people,
or when someone wants
to sponsor the championship,
and is turned down,
or when they block you,
you feel like they’re working against you.
Choueiri Group was responsible
for getting advertisements for MBC.
They bought all the air time of MBC Group,
and they sold it.
All of a sudden, three
Jordanians put a cage on TV
with people fighting in it,
and took their clients.
They wouldn’t accept that,
even if we had a mutual interest.
So, we always had a problem
with Choueiri Group.
When we sat to negotiate
with the channel manager,
the marketing manager,
the advertisement manager,
or the legal director,
or head of the legal department,
Choueiri Group’s representative
rushed to answer.
Why would he talk to me?
His business wasn’t with me.
I said he could talk
to his partners after I left.
I wasn’t his partner.
I was the partner of MBC
and MBC was his partner.
There was no relationship or a
signed agreement between us.
MBC told me not to upset
Choueiri because if I did,
no one would defend me.
I said “I don’t care, it’s not my problem.
I only talk to you,
and if he wants to talk to me,
he must do it through you.
You and I can reach an agreement.”
It was difficult.
We knew what they were
doing to us in the market,
and that when we spoke
with certain companies,
they wouldn’t let those
companies meet with us.
They complicated things for us.
Finally, we started to suspect that
they wanted us to face difficulties,
and suffer a financial problem,
so we would have to give up
our trademark to them.
I would never give up
Desert Force to anyone.
We invented Desert Force. We made it.
We worked hard for it. We left
our families and country for it.
I would never give it to anyone.
I offered some people
to expand and improve it.
Who are these people?
I don’t want to say, but they’re
running championships now.
We invited them to join us
instead of starting from scratch.
To this day, the biggest brand
related to mixed martial
arts is Desert Force.
You will get views for this videos
because of my ugly face
more than the championships
shown on TV these days.
This is a reality.
If you watch other Arab MMA
championships these days,
half of the comments
will be about Desert Force.
Any new MMA fighter
aspires to be on Desert Force.
MBC has played a key role in the
development of Desert Force.
I can’t complain about them.
The ending was because
of a misunderstanding.
Maybe we misunderstood certain things,
I’m not going to blame them
or say it was because I had
a dispute with my relative.
There are many points related to that.
It’s not over yet. We still talk
to some important people
in the mixed martial arts community.
A lot of people
want to collaborate with us,
and others wish we would
vanish off the face of the earth.
But that’s normal.
When you get into a big business
that gets all this attention,
that’s what happens. You should
expect it and be prepared for it.
Desert Force 26.
The 26 February Championship
was the one that got cancelled.
Did that championship
mark the end for you?
No, we had a ready contract
with MBC for five years.
When we started to have disagreements…
We reached a point with MBC
where Desert Force had done its part.
Desert Force organized
an Arab championship
at the regional level
that introduced the sport.
Desert Force visited nine
Arab cities in six Arab countries.
No other Arab championship
in any other sport achieved that.
No other championship
travels across the Arab World.
Only Desert Force did that.
-At the time you mean.
-Even today. Who does that?
-How many countries did it go to?
-In the Arab World?
Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.
-Isn’t that right?
What about Lebanon and Egypt?
What about Kuwait, and Morocco?
We planned to go to Morocco.
-They went to Morocco.
-Yes, they did.
Brave is riding the bandwagon.
Brave is doing nothing new.
It didn’t come up with
anything on its own.
Brave does not know what it’s doing.
It’s firing a shot in the air,
hoping to hit something.
I’m being honest.
You might think I’m criticizing
others after I failed, but I’m not.
How does it feel to see that
most of the fighters you trained
have become champions in Brave?
-Abdul Kareem Al-Silwadi…
-He didn’t become a champion.
He did. He just lost
the championship recently.
There’s also Mohammad Fakhreddine,
and Jarrah Al-Silawi, although
he didn’t come from Desert Force.
He was on Cage Warriors,
but he became more famous
when he was on MBC Action.
But there are some names. Hashem Arkhaga
recently joined Brave.
Do you know what makes me really happy?
That these organizations cannot
rely on their expertise in the sport.
They’re relying on what Desert
Force created and promoted.
Before you go on, we’re
talking about all organizations.
we don’t want to focus on Brave.
This applies to UAE Warriors too.
-It applies to everyone.
We don’t want people
to think we’re biased.
No, not at all.
I mentioned Brave because…
Maybe it’s the best right now.
Maybe, I don’t know if two out of ten
people in the Arab World know it.
Frankly, nobody knows who the fuck
they are. Excuse my language.
Nobody knows UAE Warriors either.
They know that Hashem is fighting,
but they think he’s with Desert Force.
People still talk about
Desert Force to this day.
Nobody knows UAE Warriors or Brave.
The fighters whom you rely on
to promote a sport
are the Desert Force fighters
whom we promoted and prepared.
You have… Excuse me.
You have relied on their fame
to promote your championship.
Things don’t work that way, Hosani,
and we both know it.
That’s not how martial
arts championships work.
But why would they start from
scratch if there are people…
They don’t have to start from scratch.
That’s not what I’m saying.
I mean that their job
as championship promoters
is to promote the sport and the fighters,
particularly in this stage.
Maybe they don’t have to do
that in an advanced stage.
That’s different, they will be
promoting the fight itself.
But at this stage, they must
promote the sport and the fighters.
They bring on board fighters
who are supposed to be stars
thanks to Desert Force
to carry the banner of the championship.
That’s great for the fighters.
I’m really happy for them.
Again, the only person I feel
sorry for is Mounir Lazzaz
because he was cheated.
Not just in the fight record,
but he was deceived financially.
If the result was different,
he would win more money.
So, everyone should know
their goals and announce them.
They should be honest
and open with people.
But nobody… Excuse me, Hosani.
Nobody is creating a story
for a fight, a person, or a fighter.
When Hashem Akhagha fought…
I know everything about Hashem,
even if we don’t talk.
If I meet him after all these years,
we’ll meet as brothers.
I know why Hashem fights and what he does.
I know everything about most
of the fighters in the region.
But when Hashem returns to fighting
all of a sudden after four years
without explaining anything…
Why? What happened? Why did he
disappear and why did he return?
Isn’t this the role of TV?
Maybe Brave isn’t properly covered
by Abu Dhabi Sports
like MBC Action supported you.
MBC was my partner under a contract.
-That’s the difference.
MBC owned fifty percent of Desert Force.
If I told MBC after five years
that I couldn’t go on,
they’d take the company and the brand
and produce it on their own.
But they organize championships
that they think are international;
UAE Warriors or Brave.
They can’t promote their fighters.
How can we know Amin Ayoub
if it wasn’t for Desert Force?
How can we know who Youssef Wehbe is,
or who Tareq Suleiman is
without Desert Force?
How can we know who
Mohammad Fakhreddine is?
Tell his story.
Let them know who he is.
Make the audience want to watch.
Do you think this is
the organization’s job,
I’m trying to teach those amateurs
organizing MMA championships.
I’m teaching them what to do.
I don’t need to teach anyone.
I’m telling them what to do to improve.
Only a fool doesn’t listen.
Promote the championship, the fighters,
and the fights.
Tell us stories so we can
know who they are.
Push it on social media,
push it on Abu Dhabi Sports,
Push it wherever you want.
How else will we know?
To this day, if I didn’t
know Hashem Arkhaga
or share a history
and a friendship with him,
I wouldn’t know why he fought on Brave.
The question is do you think
it’s the organization’s job?
-Take the UFC for example.
They say each fighter must prove his worth
and appear on social media
without them spending money on him.
They only invest in people who prove
their ability to market themselves,
whether on social media or even
on interviews after the fights.
Can we blame the organizations?
They have about 80,
100, 200, or 400 fighters.
Should they all get the
same media coverage?
No, not all should get
the same media coverage.
If we’re going to discuss the UFC,
we can’t compare anyone
in the region to the UFC.
There’s a big difference.
But if you want to compare,
The UFC promotes its fighters.
The UFC does that, not ESPN,
although ESPN plays a role
in interviews and so on.
But the UFC produces
the fighters’ promotions.
I personally wrote every word to
promote the fighters of Desert Force.
When Sabine introduced the fighters,
I wrote that introduction.
When the fighters were asked questions
to get an answer
that would draw attention,
I wrote that.
If we got a weird answer that
would lead to an unwanted effect,
they called me to ask if they
could replace the question,
and I approved. That’s the
Their job is to promote.
Not to sit at a table
in front of the cage,
that looked different
from all the other seats
so they could watch up close
and think they’re important.
That’s not the goal.
They have to promote.
If they don’t promote
the fighters, the fights,
or the championship, then what’s left?
What’s their goal?
They’re not making money either.
What do they want?
Why are they doing that?
What does the viewer get out of that?
They don’t want to listen.
This is free advice.
They say ideas are 12 cents a dozen.
Do you think the end
of Desert Force was…
also because of the exclusive contracts
that you made the fighters sign?
The fighters wanted to fight
at many organizations,
and you were against it.
You wanted exclusive rights.
You invested in them
as you said in a previous interview.
You invested in the fighters,
so you had the right to sign
exclusive contracts with them.
Do you think that was one of the
main reasons Desert Force ended?
I don’t want to say it ended,
you say it may come back.
So, do you think this was
a problem with the fighters,
who are considered your
most important element?
Not at all. That had
nothing to do with it.
It’s unreasonable to tell my partner;
that I have a fighter named Mounir Lazzaz,
“the Sniper”. He’s exceptional.
He’s had three knockouts with us.
A champion with the shield,
and I want to send him
to fight with the UFC.
I’ve invested in him for a year.
I’ve been putting him on TV
announcing his name,
and making him famous
to the Arab audience.
No one would know Mounir
if it wasn’t for MBC Action.
Not no one at all, but the
public wouldn’t know him.
Why would we send him to the UFC?
He has the chance to fight
at the best organization globally,
and we’re a sports company,
and we want to promote the sport.
Why don’t we benefit from it?
Should we prepare him
just to give him up for free?
I spend a lot of money. Do they
think I only pay for airline tickets
and hotel rooms during the championships?
is promoted for four weeks,
and broadcast on air for two weeks.
cost me a million dollars.
We used to promote
four fights and eight fighters.
If you multiply eight by a hundred dollars
to see how much the promotion costs…
How much would a fighter cost?
Let’s say one fighter costs 50
thousand, or even 20 thousand.
That’s before paying for
their plane tickets, salaries,
hotel rooms, meals, and transportation.
Only to give them up to the UFC?
The UFC should pay me.
I have a contract with the fighter,
and terminating the contract costs money.
But you gave a fighter
as a gift to Rizin I guess?
Japan, in the Grand Prix.
Japan was organizing a championship
for all championships.
They wanted a fighter from Desert Force.
-You gave them one.
-Yes, we did,
because they requested him through us.
We told the fighters that
if they received any offers…
-It must be through you.
-Let it be through us.
We didn’t want to deprive them
from anything at that stage.
For example, the sponsors whose
logos are printed on the fighters’ shirts.
I am entitled to reject any sponsor.
I had Burger King, Hardee’s,
and Fords in the cage…
Excuse me. I mean Ford.
I couldn’t let a fighter
wear the Mercedes logo.
My official sponsor was Ford.
I couldn’t let them
wear the Mercedes logo.
This is guerilla marketing.
I have to be ready for it.
All the contracts state
that they may put any logos
they want on their clothes
with the approval of Desert Force.
At first, we weren’t
very strict about that.
They chose any sponsors they wanted.
We wanted them to benefit.
I knew I couldn’t offer them all the money
that they thought they deserved,
because they didn’t generate
the profit I deserved either.
So I gave them the chance to make money.
If they were going
to be in a fight on MBC,
they could sell that.
I was okay with that.
I wouldn’t even interfere.
I didn’t stop them.
But if something was conflicting
with a sponsor of the championship,
I would say something.
Otherwise, I let them make money.
I didn’t stop them.
I wanted to help them
but in the right way.
If the president of Chechnya
invites you to a championship,
you can’t leave everything behind.
You have a contract with me.
I signed contracts with them
to protect myself from that.
You can’t just get up and leave.
There was a rumor around the same time;
toward the end of your
relationship with MBC Action,
and it came from you not from MBC.
There was a year
remaining on the contract.
Correct me if I’m wrong,
but there was a rumor,
and it might be true,
that you were about to sign
with beIN Sports. Is that true?
wanted to buy Desert Force after MBC.
We were talking to them.
We did not start negotiating with beIN
until MBC announced
they didn’t want to continue.
We expressed our position to MBC.
We wanted to show all our cards,
concerning the money the company made.
If we were partners in a company, Hosani,
and you were in charge of accounting
and I was responsible for ads,
I would make the profit
and you would record it, right?
When we ultimately showed our cards,
I had to reveal how much I made,
and you had to reveal
how much you recorded.
-How much money.
Am I right?
If someone wouldn’t
reveal their cards to you,
what would you do?
There would be a lack of trust.
Well, someone just
wouldn’t show his cards to me.
So we said that if they weren’t
going to give us the chance
to make this business grow,
and bring in investors,
and people who could boost this sport…
We got Ford as a sponsor
for the championship, not for MBC Action,
and not for Desert Force alone,
but for the championship,
and the money was
made for the championship.
If they didn’t want that, then they
were hiding something from us.
There was a lack of trust. If they
didn’t want to bring in investors,
and expand the project,
then they didn’t want to work with us.
They said they didn’t want
any trouble with their partners,
So, they were willing
to distance themselves.
We agreed to that.
That was the end of the negotiations.
Right after that, before the
contract term officially ended…
After that term, there
was an additional period
when neither party could do anything
related to mixed martial arts.
They weren’t allowed to broadcast,
and we weren’t allowed to organize.
We started to search
for a new broadcast partner.
The partner that we always wanted
At the time, we looked
into Dubai and Abu Dhabi,
but after MBC, we had to go to beIN.
In the sports industry,
beIN was widespread
internationally, not just regionally.
That’s how we saw it at the time.
We reached a point
when we were talking to…
What was his name?
The president of PSG.
Exactly, we talked
to Nasser Al-Khleifi personally.
Zaid was in charge of that.
He received a call saying
“sorry for the delay,
your papers will be ready on Monday.”
We checked the news the day after,
to see what was going on
with Nasser Al-Khleifi, just to make sure.
That was our way of thinking
after dealing with so many people.
You could be talking to someone one day,
and call him the next day
to find out his dad died,
while you’re calling to ask for something.
So, we decided to check
Nasser’s news online.
We found out that a Swiss
court ruled against him
in the case of bribery
for the Fifa World Cup 2022.
We knew we were screwed.
But this happened only recently.
Yes, and after that,
the French Football Federation
accused Nasser and PSG
of illegally buying Neymar.
I talked to the guys and
said they’d get no papers
before six months.
The World Cup was lost and then regained.
BeoutQ came into the scene.
BeIN started to sell its assets in Europe.
They changed. They didn’t want
to invest that amount anymore.
Their plan was to put in a big
investment and change Desert Force,
expand and improve it,
and make it international.
I was mad at the partners at the time,
and wasn’t interacting
with Desert Force a lot,
but they were trying.
What would it take
to bring Desert Force back?
Do you think it can come back
or it was a phase that ended,
and you built a name
and a generation of fighters
who currently fight
with many organizations,
and maybe with the UFC one day.
Some fighters already went to the UFC,
like Jarjis Danho.
Maybe they didn’t perform well,
-but some fighters…
-Francimar Barroso, Cristiano Marcello.
-Yes, but I’m talking about…
Exactly, in the next UFC Championship
in Abu Dhabi…
The UFC wanted Abdullah Majdub
but he rejected the offer.
He rejected it. He had trouble
with his wife over the Ultimate Fighter,
and he decided to end his fighting career.
Are you satisfied with the legacy
left by Desert Force?
Or will there be a comeback?
Look, I’m very proud of what
we achieved in Desert Force.
I’m proud of everyone
who participated in it,
watched it, or stopped us on the street
in Egypt, Saudi Arabia,
the UAE, Lebanon, Palestine,
Bahrain, or anywhere else
to take a picture with us,
because of our work. I’m so proud
that almost every Arab family
knows what Desert Force is.
I’m proud of the fighters
who grew with Desert Force,
and were able to continue their careers
based on the way Desert
Force promoted them.
What would it take to bring it back?
I don’t know. Sometimes…
Sometimes a party
wants to make an impact in sports,
and thinks it’s
contributing to its growth,
but it ends up having a negative impact.
For example, in Jordan,
we had a premier basketball league.
Our basketball league was wonderful.
We had teams competing against each other,
and a basketball Classico
between Al-Ahli Club
and the Orthodox Club.
Everyone watched it, It was excellent.
And then, Zain company,
which was Fast Link at the time,
bought a club.
It changed the professional rules,
and spent on the club more than
the Jordanian national team spent.
It owned the best team in Jordan,
and took all the players
from the other teams.
In two years, the League was disbanded,
and so was the Basketball Federation.
Sometimes you have to let
people mess everything up,
and then come back.
That’s what I think.
I can return tomorrow if I want.
If I do, half of the current
organizations will run away.
But I don’t want to come
into an environment…
I don’t want to engage with
people who are acting…
The fighters are promoting
the sport in the region.
Amin Ayoub did not win at the Academy,
and he’s the champion of UAE Warriors.
If the people at UAE Warriors
knew what they were doing,
they’d get the last one
who beat him at the Academy;
Saad Bujeka is a phenomenal kickboxer,
and kung fu sanda
and muay thai practitioner.
No one can defeat him.
He competed against a wrestler
from the Egyptian national team,
at the Academy,
and the wrestler couldn’t knock him down.
He beat Amin Ayoub.
He’s better than him in striking,
and blocked all the take downs.
Saad Boujeka can fight at 66kg.
You’re giving them ideas.
-I’m telling you…
ideas are 12 cents a dozen.
Only a fool doesn’t listen.
I’ve been there, done that.
I didn’t fail, I folded.
A poker player would understand.
I folded to live another day.
I tapped in practice.
Those who built Desert Force are there.
Those who made the sport known are there.
Those who worked to make the sport grow
for twenty years are there.
The environment right now is toxic.
But the market is open.
It is, and everyone can
do whatever he wants.
But you can enter the market.
I can, whenever I want.
I can post an event on Facebook.
It’ll get more viewers
that all of them combined.
If I post an event on Facebook,
I’ll get more viewers
than both of them combined.
I still have 1.6 million
followers on Facebook.
No 1.6 million people around
the world know who they are.
Aren’t you afraid
of losing these followers…
If you disappear for too long?
No, I’m not afraid of losing them.
To this day, I’m all they know.
Desert Force is all they know.
To this day, most of the fighters
call the sport Desert Force
instead of mixed martial arts.
This is why I’m thinking
of doing a podcast like you.
Hopefully, we can discuss
important issues once a month.
I want to talk about all sports
to give the viewers a background
on what’s happening
in the sport
from a business perspective.
I experienced that for 12 years.
Even more, 15 years.
But let’s be realistic, Mohammad.
You talked about the business aspect,
and the organizations spending
money without getting an income.
Name one organization other than the UFC
that’s not losing money.
and ONE Championship.
All organizations… We must be realistic.
I don’t think any
organization is profitable
except for the UFC,
whether in the Arab World,
or even Bellator.
Bellator is owned…
By the way, the idea of Bellator
is like your idea with MBC Action.
It’s owned by Viacom.
-But they’re losing.
They’re losing money. There’s
a difference between losing money
and not making an income.
There’s a difference between ONE FC
spending money on public relations
and not making an income at all.
ONE FC is losing money.
Its financials are open to the public.
It loses a lot of money.
Remember they are in markets
used to the idea of buying tickets,
while in the Arab World,
everyone wants free tickets.
The UFC is coming to Abu Dhabi,
and people ask for free tickets.
The culture of buying tickets
like everyone else
is absent in sports.
Football clubs buy all the tickets
to get the fans to come, although
they’re supposed to be loyal.
Should they pay 20 dirhams
on their behalf?
I’ll tell you something from experience.
The places where we made
the most money from tickets
were Jordan and Lebanon.
The places where we made
the most money from sponsors…
were the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
I had no audience in the UAE.
The hall’s capacity was
three thousand people
and less than 1500 showed up.
Although you gave out
some tickets for free.
We did, we always gave
30% of our tickets for free
to promote the show.
We expected that they brought
additional people with them.
In addition to half the occupied seats,
there was 30% free of charge.
That’s okay in your stage,
but after ten years,
-it’s still the same.
The poorest markets; Jordan and Lebanon
yielded more profit from
tickets than the others.
That’s not an excuse;
that no one pays for tickets.
I had six thousand spectators in Lebanon.
Six thousand people watched the fight.
You don’t see that number even in
the final football match in the UAE.
That’s the problem. It’s not common
as a culture in the Arab World,
and neither is the pay-per-view system.
-Let me tell you something.
-If a channel is encrypted.
You’re giving me excuses
for this and that.
Tell me, is there someone who hates money?
Who doesn’t want it?
-Everyone wants it of course.
-If you establish an organization,
let’s say it’s governmental,
which they both could be.
Let’s call it governmental.
Don’t you want it to be sustainable?
-Of course I do.
-As a government,
don’t you want it to run on its own
and not require an annual budget?
Sure, and this applies to football clubs
-in terms of privatization.
Don’t you want an income?
What about the income?
Won’t you try to generate an income?
What are you doing?
We created a business.
Nobody gave me support.
As I said, we were three
guys in their Jiu-Jitsu gis
who came to fight in the UAE
and get paid for it.
We worked on the show,
and found a way to make
money out of our hobby.
Would you achieve all that success
and make all that money
if you had a partner
other than MBC Action?
If I had beIN as a partner for example,
-I probably would.
-What if it was someone else?
Why would it be?
There are only two channels
that have this wide presence.
Why would I go to anyone else?
I was with someone else.
I was with Roya, and I did well.
I was barely afloat, but I was afloat.
I had an income.
I earned a sum of money from the sponsors
on Jordan TV, and then a company would ask
“Why do you ask for 20 thousand dollars
for an advertisement on a show on Roya,
when I can pay the same amount
for three months of ads?”
That’s what the company’s president said
when I asked for sponsorship.
You have to sell.
You have to sell, promote,
make profit, pay the fighters,
and negotiate their salaries.
It’s not easy.
If you’re inexperienced in the sport,
you won’t know what you’re doing.
If you hire people to do this work,
they’ll deceive you.
They’ll take advantage of you,
and won’t care if your
business shuts down.
That’s the difference between
someone in the industry
and someone who’s not.
Even if I want to leave this industry,
and I have tried,
People know me because of it.
People stop me in the streets
to take a picture with me to this day.
When there are problems
in a championship anywhere,
they call me.
They ask for my help
when someone doesn’t pay,
or gives them a false contract.
When MBC negotiated with us
and with Saudi Arabia and the UAE,
they asked us questions.
When we met with them,
they used to say:
“You are the only people
that made business
in MMA in the region.”
They recognize that we were
the only ones to create business.
I can’t build a stadium in five days
for a championship, Hosani.
I wouldn’t even if I could.
Are there fighters
who were on Desert Force,
and contacted you, Zaid, or Zaid,
that you were right
and that you were the OGs
and that they’d missed your championship?
Or did you all go your
separate ways and that was it?
I get messages on WhatsApp
saying that they miss our work,
and wish Desert Force would return,
and that they felt the sport
was more dignified before.
We hope that UFC’s event
in Abu Dhabi this time
will be different than last time,
that there will be more investment
in local fighters,
I mean the fighters in the region
whom we used to see
since Desert Force and to this day,
We saw indicators that this time
will be better.
Ottman Azaitar and others who
will be there, like Belal Muhammad,
As well as other fighters
whom we’ll see at the organization,
but we have five years to go,
so we hope they’ll choose familiar faces
in the Arab World
and make the right investments.
At least to have the reality TV show
The Ultimate Fighter.
Well, something like that,
what do you think?
The person I was talking to,
who was a Desert Force champion
and now he’s the president
of the Saudi MMA federation.
I talked to him and told him we’re talking
to the UFC and they are too.
We got the offer,
so I’ll tell you what they’ll offer.
What I told him and was trying
to sell him on it, in order to
cooperate with each other on that,
was that I didn’t want to repeat the same
mistake we keep making in the region.
And that’s what I call “hit and run”.
The UFC come, hold an event,
and then leave.
They come, hold an event, and then leave.
There’s no spillover effect.
There’s nothing to benefit the MMA
industry in the Arab World.
There are no fighters participating,
no referees, the organizers aren’t Arab.
Nobody in the region is benefitting…
not exactly nobody,
because now the Abu Dhabi Tourism Board
is using the UFC tournament
to promote the city. That’s wonderful.
Great, a fantastic strategic plan.
I’m all for that.
But I mean that nobody benefits from that
in the MMA industry.
I don’t mean to benefit financially,
I’m just saying that it would be good
to have something by the UFC
that makes them seem interested
in the region in other ways
other than just making profits off of it.
That’s what I was trying to tell Aziz,
I told him this was very important.
That they don’t just come and go.
Okay, maybe in that case your federation
could get some benefits,
maybe some important people would be
impressed that you brought the UFC here,
and it’s good to bring the UFC to KSA,
but after all is said and done,
none of that would benefit the people
in this industry.
So, when you take interest in a fighter
in this industry,
it’s important to benefit the people
in this industry.
That’s what I would like the UFC to do.
Maybe I’m too hopeful,
maybe I’d better mind my own business.
But that’s what I think is important
because of these five events
in Abu Dhabi.
It’s unfair to bring the UFC here
every year without any Arab fighter,
and without having Dana White
looking for a fighter from here,
and without anything happening.
Anything at all.
That’s what’s supposed to happen,
if we want to be realistic.
Everyone wants the best fighters
in the region to come here.
That’s what I want as a business owner,
and as a fan, everything.
As a fighter myself, that’s what I want.
I hope this will happen. We’ve come to
the end of our exciting episode with you.
I hope MMA fans will like it,
and that they won’t be offended by
anything, as you and I are known
to talk about anything we like in general.
It was a long episode but I hope
people will interact with it.
Well, I told you
from the beginning, Hosani,
if you wanted to ruin your podcast,
then host me on the first episode.
But I’m telling you, I told you before
that when you and I talk about
these things, we can talk forever.
-we can talk forever.
This is proof. You and I can keep talking
for another 2.5 hours about this,
-and nothing will change.
-There are many things
-we couldn’t cover.
-There are many things
we haven’t talked about.
So, I told you I was planning to do
something similar to this.
I did a few tests for the episodes,
I still don’t have a name for the podcast,
I didn’t do anything.
When you announced this,
I told you I was planning to do this too,
and I wanted to consult you.
So, I’ll take you up on your word,
that we’ll do an episode together
once a month.
God willing, why not?
And to push it together. I feel that…
You’ve been a voice of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA
from the start.
And I’ve become a face for MMA
and I have experience in Jiu-Jitsu, so…
But when you and I talk, we never stop,
so let’s stop for the call of prayer now.
Yes. We’ll conclude this episode
and we hope that everyone liked it,
and hopefully we’ll be back with new
episodes, I won’t give you a date,
but this will be the first and last time
I act formal in this podcast.
Thank you, Mohammed.
Thanks for listening, and goodbye.