x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Difficult outing for Emirati fighter in MMA

But UAE-based Mahdi ben Hammouda proves too strong in his bout. Gary Meenaghan reports from Dubai Fighting Championship.

Amin Sherifi, left, and Craig Harriman fight during the Dubai Fighting Championship. Satish Kumar / The National
Amin Sherifi, left, and Craig Harriman fight during the Dubai Fighting Championship. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // It was brutal and barbaric and the Emirati finished the bout with blood gushing from his nose.

Amin Sherifi, a 21 year old taking part in only his second mixed martial arts fight, was ushered out of the octagon in pain at tonight's Dubai Fighting Championship Fight Night 2.

Born in Dubai, Sherifi is trained in taekwondo but found his fight with England's Craig Harriman stopped after less than two minutes when his opponent connected with a tight right uppercut that produced the desired effect and sprayed nearby spectators with Sherifi's blood.

The UAE's first of two representatives found himself vastly outgunned in his own backyard as his bearded British opponent's vocal support drowned out the smattering of Arabs dressed in kanduras at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa.

The bout was initially suspended for five minutes after an early rogue knee from Harriman caught his opponent below the belt.

When the fight resumed, the 23 year old Englishman showed no mercy, pushing Sherifi into the cage fence and pummelling his body and head with a series of hard blows.

With Arabic and English shouting filling the room, Harriman's right handed uppercut connected strongly with the Emirati's nose and provided the impetus to quickly take advantage.

As Sherifi cowered looking for respite, the Briton upped the intensity, rendering his bloodied opponent helpless and forcing the referee to step in and call the bout to a halt.

"Everything went to plan," Harriman said after the fight.

"Three rounds would have been fun, but this is obviously better than expected.

"I actually underestimated him a bit - his kicks were strong. The plan was to give him the first 60 seconds and see what his moves were and when the fight was stopped for the alleged low blow, my corner man said to me 'Just go for him.'

"I upped it a bit, got him against the cage, saw an opening and cracked him.

"When I hit him I heard him react and then he started bleeding so the referee stopped it and it was job done."

The second of the two Emiratis, 18 year old Mohammed Yahya, won his bout, but in controversial circumstances. After coming off worst in the opening exchanges, the Emirati administered an arm lock on his opponent Omar Chammara. The referee immediately halted the bout, despite the Syrian not tapping out.

Boos greeted the official announcement and Chammara's corner vocally expressed their displeasure beginning a chant of "He didn't tap."

Yahya, to his credit, appeared embarrassed by the referee's premature call.

Earlier in the evening, the potential dangers of such a savage sport were made clear when a stretcher was called for to help Yasin Yousefi, an Iranian welterweight, exit the stage after being forced to retire midway through his second round fight with the Tunisian kick-boxing specialist Mahdi ben Hammouda.

The Dubai-based Ben Hammouda was also taking part in only his second semi-professional fight, but appeared far more in control of his contest, utilising his kick-boxing expertise to dominate Yousefi.

He is now looking ahead to his next fight, which he hopes will bring him further acclaim.

"I am delighted to win," the 24 year old said. "But now I want my next fight to be at the professional level."

Shortly before, Khasan Maglimov, an undefeated lightweight kick-boxing specialist, had extended his undefeated run to four consecutive wins after getting the better of Daniel Nuamah, a Sharjah-based Ghanaian, over three rounds.

Early in the second round, the Russian connected with an impressive roundhouse kick that connected brutally just below Nuamah's right eye, but it was Maglimov's ability on the mat that impressed the judges, who scored it unanimously.

"He was good," Maglimov said afterwards. "But not good enough."

The same could be said about Sherifi, who will be waking this morning with a bruised face and battered pride.

Having now lost both his fights and with his own compatriots showing such little support, he must ask himself whether this is the best way to spend his Friday evenings.



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