It was a lead-up based on bad blood. It was all over the place, including on the event’s tagline. But at the end of BRAVE CF 52 in Milan, Italy there was nothing but cordiality and respect, and, of course, the supreme glory for Mohamed Said Maalem, the new BRAVE CF 52 Light Heavyweight champion of the world. For the complete and official results you can go here.
Following months of back-and-forth public statements, social media war of words, and lots of anticipation, Said Maleem showed resilience, in addition to his traditional firepower, to emerge victorious and claim the vacant 93kg belt with a first-round KO over the reigning Middleweight champion Fakhreddine.
After the fight, in a long speech given in both Arabic and French, and subsequently translated to English by his team, “L’Ambiance” tried to smooth things over with Fakhreddine.
“I have no issue with Fakhreddine, at all. We are brothers before God, he’s a good man, and I like to think I am too. I respect him, his team, and his country of Lebanon. The only thing in my mind now is happiness, happiness for becoming the world champion”, he said.
Fakhreddine, who failed on his plans to become BRAVE CF’s first double champion, adopted a similar tone, but used his time on the mic to mention a personal drama he went through moments after the fight and also the most controversial moment of the fight, the alleged illegal shots on the back of the head he suffered during the TKO.
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“I don’t mean it as an excuse but I just heard that a huge friend of mine got shot and killed, like 3 hours before the event. It was devastating. I was hit on the back of the head too a few times, the ref didn’t see it. But it is what it is. I want to congratulate Said Maalem for his world title”, Fakhreddine stated.
When the bell rang, Said Maalem went for an early takedown, Fakhreddine tried a guillotine choke and managed to stand up. When they were clinched, Fakhreddine complained about a groin shot but the referee Dec Larkin let the fight proceed. Less than a minute later, though, the referee stopped the fight due to a now undisputable low blow.
Fakhreddine recovered quickly and went for it right away, combining vicious leg kicks that slowed Maalem down and powerful strikes to the head, which promptly forced Maalem to shoot for a takedown.
They scrambled and fought on the fence and then Said Maalem showed great sense of urgency, seizing the opportunity and connecting a short left hook that dropped Fakhreddine. With his opponent down, L’Ambiance engaged determined to finish the fight right there and connected multiple strikes until the fight was finally stopped.
These final seconds also led to the most controversial moment of the fight, with Fakhreddine claiming he got hit on the back of the head by Said Maleem a few times.
With a little bit more than 30 seconds on the clock in the first round, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Said Maalem got his 8th KO victory and his first MMA world title at age 37.
Rustam Chsiev stops hometown hero Enrico Cortese
BRAVE CF 52 was a night of highlights, beautiful finishes and exciting fights from the bottom to the top and that was also true in the co-main event of the evening.
Sadly for the Italians, though, the home fighter Enrico Cortese wasn’t the one producing the highlights, but the victim in his opponent Rustam Chsiev’s one.
The two men started at full throttle, putting everything on each single strike. Such incredible pace wasn’t sustainable for the whole fight, so Chsiev brough the fight to his own terms and took Cortese down — the first of many times within only five minutes.
In fact, Chsiev did so every time he needed to, like when Cortese managed to bring the fight back up and started swinging and connecting at him.
On the ground and with time on the clock, Chsiev worked his way through a full mount, from which he managed to inflict huge damage on Cortese.
The Italian was able to stand up but was mauled to the ground once again, absorbing an enormous amount of strikes in the process.For a moment, it seemed that the fight was going to be stopped but Cortese was saved by the bell.
That didn’t last long either, during the break between rounds, the doctors deemed Cortese unfit to continue due to an injury on his arm and Rustam Chsiev confirmed his 5th professional win, the third consecutive inside the BRAVE CF Arena.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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