Mohammad Fakhreddine is ready for a change, to turn the page on his long-running feud with Algeria’s Mohamed Said Maalem and start a new chapter in his storied career.
However, before that can happen, the Lebanese fighter needs to take care of business on March 11 at BRAVE CF 57 in Bahrain, where he and Said Maalem will face off for the vacant light heavyweight title. Fakhreddine is already the promotion’s middleweight king, and a win this week will see him become the first two division champion in BRAVE CF’s history.
” I can’t wait for this fight to happen; I can’t wait to get it over and done with. I know maybe we’ll have to fight one more time, but for now, I just want to get this fight done and move on,” Fakhreddine said, speaking to LowkickMMA.
The year-long rivalry dates back to when Fakhreddine and Said Maalem initially met at BRAVE CF 50. There had been tension in the build-up, but it boiled over after illness forced Fakhreddine to withdraw from the contest the day of the fight. Although Fakhreddine acted on doctors’ advice,Said Maalem mocked his rival and claimed he would have fought if the roles had been reversed.
BRAVE CF’s matchmakers quickly rebooked the bout for BRAVE CF 52 in Italy. The two men then engaged in a heated war of words with their genuine disdain for one another, coupled with their explosive styles, leading to the contest being the most anticipated in BRAVE CF’s history.
The fight was a short, action-packed affair, with Said Maalem seemingly earning himself a first-round TKO win. However, after footage emerged of the Algerian landing repeated illegal blows to the back of Fakhreddine’s head, the Italian commission overturned the result to a no-contest.
“It should have been a DQ on the spot, but that didn’t happen, and I don’t want the belt with a DQ win. I want to win the belt when I beat his arse, that’s how I want to win the belt. ” Fakhreddine said.
After moving to Dubai from Lebanon, the 37-year-old has brought in sparring partners from his homeland and Kuwait to help prepare him for the rematch. After two false starts against Said Maalem, Fakhreddine has been training the house down in preparation for this bout.
” I’m bringing a different animal to the table this time. Physically, I’m 100 times better than the last fight, 100 times stronger as well. So last time he couldn’t handle my power, he couldn’t handle my strength. So this time, I know he won’t be able to for sure.”
A born competitor, it has been almost 18 months — ignoring the no-contest — since Fakhreddine has had a whole fight, and he is hungry to show fans what he has been working on inside the gym. The game plan against Said Maalem remains relatively unchanged, and like always, Fakhreddine will make sure that those watching get their money’s worth.
“‘I’m going to come in there, I’m going to walk forward, and I’m going to try to finish the fight. Nothing’s going to change; this is me.
“Everybody knows that I’ve come for a brawl. I might be technical. I’m good when I want to be technical. But I like to give my fans a good show, and I like to put on a show for everybody.”
Fakhreddine may be aiming to entertain BRAVE’s worldwide fan-base, but there is one group in particular that he wants to inspire and bring joy to; the Lebanese people. Lebanon is in the grip of a significant economic downturn, with 40 percent of the population thinking about emigrating, and Fakhreddine is well aware of the plight his compatriots are going through.
“People are struggling. A lot of people I know don’t even have food to eat, So they have to pretty much just hustle to get some food, and I feel sorry for the people going through this hard time. I feel them; I was there just recently, and I know how it is. It’s hard, and I feel really bad for the people that live there, ” he explains.
“It’s going to be a pleasure to put a smile on some of those people’s faces. I know people are going to be happy back home, whether they know me or not. I’m going to be representing each and every one of them. I’m going to raise that flag high on March 11; no matter what happens, I’m going to raise that flag high. I’m going to put a smile on a lot of people’s faces. I’m going to be giving hope to a lot of people as well.”
When Fakhreddine enters the cage this week, he will be fighting for more than personal glory or to simply defeat a bitter rival. He will be fighting for everyone in Lebanon who dreams of following their own path and building their own future.