MMA Fighter Leonardo Barbosa has come out and admitted that he ‘threw a fight’ as he felt threatened by a gunman before and during his fight against Ahmed Wali Hotak which took place in Afghanistan and was the main event at TGFC 11 on Feb. 11.
Barbosa took to social media afterward to confirm he lost on purpose, saying he felt threatened by a gunman. The post has since been set private after receiving several messages from “aggressive” Afghan people calling him a “liar. Barbosa spoke with MMA Fighting on Friday to reveal more details.
Barbosa had signed a new four-year deal with the company and spoke positively about the promotion up until “fans entered the locker room to celebrate with the winning fighters.”
According to Barbosa, the man entered his locker room that evening and “started screaming things” in his native language. He couldn’t understand what exactly he was saying. He did understand the message, however, when this man allegedly showed him he was carrying a gun. Barbosa explained he later spotted that man “in the VIP area during the fight, real close to the cage.”
“He kept screaming, extremely aggressive,” he said. “He got closer to the cage in between rounds and started saying something similar to what he had said in the locker room, only more aggressive. I was winning the fight, I won the first round well, my opponent had a broken nose and needed surgery the next day, and I think I would have won, but I felt unable to do anything in that fight.”
“And then that happened. I threw the fight,” he admits. “I came back different for the second round, a series of things were going through my mind. I have a son, I have a family. Him killing me wasn’t my biggest fear because the repercussion would be huge, but, I don’t know, people there are a bit complicated. It’s complicated, really. That region is still at war, there are terrorist attacks going on and people is kind of used to that now. A car exploded while I was there and they simply isolated the street, the army put a detour to another street and that’s it.”
TGFC CEO Abdul Wasi Sharifi told MMA Fighting that “Leonardo never told me about [gunman] when we reached to [the] hotel and before the arena. Never talked me so today I heard this story and we agree to rematch the event soon in Dubai. He said that there was not fault of his opponent, hotel and promotion.”
“I had no documents in an unfamiliar country,” he said. “I never thought I’d go through a situation like this and I hope never to go through again. My biggest fear was something happening and getting trapped there. I would do something to fight back and defend my life, right? I don’t know their laws. The first thing that came to my head was the fear of not being able to leave that place, of being arrested for some reason or going to a hospital without my documents, only the immigration paper.”
After the fight, Barbosa landed in Brazil after a long flight back that included a 24-hour stop in Istanbul, where he refused to leave the airport because that’s the only place he felt “safe.”
The MMA veteran said he was offered a rematch by TGFC officials for a May event in Dubai, and is willing to accept the bout.
“I’d go with a different structure this time, with my cornermen and everything else,” Barbosa said. “I’ll never travel again without my cornermen.”
“This rematch will be different,” he added. “I believe I can win this fight with ease, to tell you the truth.”
This is certainly one of the more wild stories you’ll read about in a sport that is filled with them. Let’s hope the rematch is a fair play for both fighters, teams, and everyone involved.
How do you see the rematch playing out? Would you have thrown the fight if you were Leonardo Barbosa?