'I want to prove that Arab fighters can compete': Jarrah Al-Silawi on his path to global MMA fame

The Jordanian Lion is all set to 'roar' into the upcoming PFL Mena League, taking place on July 12 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Somya Mehta

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Published: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 4:46 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Jul 2024, 4:47 PM

The rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the Arab region and the UAE has been remarkable in recent years. Major promotions like the UFC and PFL as well as regional organisations such as UAE Warriors have hosted high-profile events, drawing international attention to local talent. The region's growing interest and investment in the sport have created new opportunities for Arab fighters to showcase their skills on a global stage, fostering a vibrant and competitive MMA community.

In the world of of MMA, Jarrah Al-Silawi’s name stands out loud and clear for his contributions to the sport in the Arab world. Known as the Jordanian Lion, Jarrah's journey from a spirited child to a pioneering MMA fighter is both inspiring and illustrative of the growing MMA scene in the region. As he steps into the PFL Mena league taking place on July 12, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, his eyes are set on clinching the inaugural welterweight title, a testament to his determination and unwavering spirit.

Early years: A mischievous kid finds his path

Born and raised in Jordan, Jarrah Al-Silawi's early years were marked by boundless energy and a knack for getting into trouble. Recognising his son's need for a positive outlet, Jarrah’s father introduced him to martial arts. Little did he know that the decision would prove to be life-defining for little Jarrah.

“My dad always told me that as a child, I was a bit of a troublemaker, so he wanted to put me into martial arts to channel this energy into something productive that would also benefit me,” he recalls. This early introduction not only instilled discipline but also sparked a passion that would define his future.

Jarrah’s foray into combat sports began with kickboxing. He quickly made a name for himself, competing in global, European, and Arab tournaments. His success in kickboxing was undeniable, but Jarrah soon felt the itch for a new challenge.

“I felt I needed to do something new that would keep me developing and getting better,” he says. This search for growth led him to the world of MMA, where he began specific training in grappling, jiu-jitsu, and other disciplines, culminating in a series of amateur fights before making his professional debut.

A career of highlights

Throughout his career, Jarrah has amassed numerous memorable moments, including winning the BRAVE CF Welterweight Championship twice. “When I won the Brave title, it was a big win, as I beat Abdoul, Gleison Tibau, and some of my earlier experiences when I won the kickboxing world championship at a very young age will always be cherished memories,” he reflects.

These victories are not just personal achievements; they are milestones that have helped elevate the status of Arab fighters on the global MMA stage.

As Jarrah gears up for his upcoming fight against Bashar Thaer from Iraq in the PFL Mena league, his training regimen is rigorous yet concise. “The camp has been great so far. I tend to cover all aspects of MMA in a camp and prepare physically very well. I studied my opponent very well, and God willing, it will be a great victory."

Without divulging too much, Jarrah hints at a well-crafted strategy for his bout with Bashar Thaer. “I’ve already made a game plan that I am working on. I have a lot of experience compared to my opponent, and I believe I am able to win anywhere this fight goes."

Pioneering MMA in the Arab region

As one of the pioneers of MMA in the Arab region, Jarrah has witnessed the sport’s evolution firsthand. With the advent of major promotions and regional organisations, the MMA scene in the Middle East is burgeoning. “With a lot of big promotions coming now to the region and a lot of regional organisations, there is a lot of progress being made in the MMA scene in the region."

"I hope that all Arab fighters use this as a chance to display their skills to the world,” he adds. Jarrah’s success serves as an inspiration for aspiring fighters, proving that talent from the Arab world can compete and thrive on the global stage.

However, the path to success in MMA is fraught with challenges, and Jarrah’s journey has been no exception. Injuries and losses have tested his resolve, but his determination has never wavered.

“We face a lot of challenges as athletes. Injuries, of course, and losses as well. But I always had the will to pursue and not give up. I have a message to deliver, and I cannot give up until I deliver it,” says Jarrah. This resilience–a defining trait for the fighter–has propelled him through the highs and lows of his fight career.

Message to the youth

Looking ahead, Jarrah’s ambitions are sky-high. “I want to take my career to the absolute furthest limits and highest of highs to inspire the next generation of Arab fighters and for them to remember those of us who laid the foundation for them."

With a vision that extends beyond personal glory; Jarrah aims to pave the way for future generations of Arab fighters. "Arab fighters are very few compared to other regions. I see it as my responsibility to show the world that Arab fighters can compete and win."

To young fighters in the Arab world who look up to him, Jarrah offers sage advice: “Don’t give up. It’s a very tough career choice, and you will face challenges. But you can overcome everything with the right mindset. Always work on a plan, on a strategy, and always get better every day.” Words that also encapsulate the essence of his own journey in combat sports.

As the Jordanian Lion prepares to roar in the PFL Mena league, he has his eyes set on the title and his heart set on leaving a lasting legacy in the world of MMA.



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