Jordanian MMA sensation Jarrah Al Silawi hopes to pave way for fighters from Middle East

Explosive Arab fighter to make debut in Professional Fighters League's million-dollar welterweight tournament on Friday



Supplied photos
Supplied photos

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Thu 5 May 2022, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Thu 5 May 2022, 10:09 PM

Jordan’s Jarrah Al Silawi is hoping to make a big statement for MMA fighters from the Middle East when he makes his Professional Fighters League (PFL) debut on Friday, May 6 in the promotion’s million-dollar welterweight tournament.

Al Silawi, who boasts a 17-3-0 pro MMA record, faces a baptism of fire when he takes on Brazil’s former UFC standout Gleison Tibau (36-15-0), who has won four of his last five fights.

The fight is scheduled to be held at the Sports Stadium Arlington, Arlington, Texas where the main event is a women’s lightweight contest between the unbeaten American Hayla Harrison (12-0-0) and Russia’s Marina Mokhnatkina (6-2-0).

Following exciting wins in the London-based Cage Warriors promotion, Desert Force, the largest MMA promotion company in the Arab world, and the Middle East-based BRAVE Combat Federation promotion, Al Silawi arrives on the global stage bristling with confidence.

“I’m just here to prove a point and the main point I want to prove is that Middle Eastern fighters are now on the biggest stage and they’re really damn good and that’s the main thing,” he said in an interview with MMA Fighting.

“Because we’re a small number, I see this as an opportunity to open the door for many other fighters in the region. I feel it’s my responsibility to kick in the door for other Arab and Middle Eastern-based fighters.”

The man known as ‘The Jordanian Lion’ enjoyed the best run of his professional career when he captured BRAVE’s welterweight championship on two occasions in addition to the super welterweight title.

Now, the two-division titleholder is determined to announce that he is the best mixed martial artist to come out of the Middle East en route to realizing his goal of becoming a PFL Welterweight World Champion.

Al Silawi earned his slot on the PFL roster when he competed in the main event on week two of the 2022 PFL Challenger Series, a platform where up-and-coming fighters compete for a spot in the league.

It was here that he sounded a warning to his future rivals when he handed Miami-based Michael Lilly his seventh defeat with a stunning first-round knockout (below).

The performance earned Al Silawi the coveted PFL contract where he finds himself in a welterweight (156-170lb) minefield, a division notoriously stacked with talent and featuring the likes of two-time champion Ray Cooper III (view link below), former champion Magomed Magomedkerimov, (below) and former Bellator champion Rory MacDonald.

However, an undeterred Al Silawi is confident that he can rub shoulders with the big names in the sport.

“I feel like I’m now better than I’ve ever been and with all the experience I’ve had, it’s time to really put this to the test and face some of the best people out there. I feel like PFL is the best place to do that,” he said.

Should Al Silawi can go far - or even go all the way - in this year’s PFL season, he will no doubt open up opportunities for other aspiring fighters from the region to try and showcase their talents on the big stage.

The Professional Fighters League (PFL) is an American MMA league founded in 2018, following the acquisition and restructuring of the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) promotion in 2017 by MMAX Investment Partners.

It is the first major MMA organization in which individual athletes compete in a regular season, post-season, and championship, rather than on a year-round basis.

The PFL currently puts on fights across six weight-divisions: At the end, each champion of the six weight classes will win a prize of $1 million each.

Upcoming Arab MMA fighters

Mounir Lazzez: “The Sniper”

Mounir Lazzez has been one of the first Arabs to make a name as an MMA fighter. Nicknamed “The Sniper”, Mounir Lazzez is of Tunisian heritage from the city of Sfax.

He currently trains at Team Nogueira in Dubai and competes in the welterweight division of the UFC with a record of (10-2-0).

He is known for his fast footwork and durability. Among his ten wins, eight have come via knockout.. This accounts for eighty percent of his victories in MMA according to UFC.com.

Lazzez made his UFC debut in July 2020 on “Fight Island”,Yas Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi wherehe defeated Abdul Razak Alhassan.

Ali Al-Qaisi: The Royal Fighter

Ali Al-Qaisi, nicknamed “The Royal Fighter”, also made his UFC debut on Fight Island in October 020. Al-Qaisi is of Jordanian nationality and currently lives in Amman, Jordan .

A late starter, Al-Qaisi has a record of (8-5-0) and fights in the BantamWeight Division. He only began competing at the age of 25 and also joined the BRAVE Combat Federation.

His late father, who was recruited into the Jordanian army, has been his biggest inspiratiom.

Mohammad ‘The Future’ Osseili

Lebanon’s Mohammad Osseili (1-0) comes from a Muay Thai/Striking background before he made the transition into MMA. The former IFMA Asian Champion relocated from Beirut, Lebanon to Dubai, to pursue his career.

He made his professional debut in November at Human Fighting Championship in Dubai against Nikita Ionin, where he won in impressive fashion. He is training with regional stalwarts like Mounir Lazzez, Anas Siraj Mounir, and Tarek Suleiman.

Osseili defeated Norway’s Elijas Paknys by knockout on the 16th of January at UAE Warriors 15 at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena at Abu Dhabi.

sports@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Sports