Mohammad Fakhreddine made combat sports history on Friday night at BRAVE Combat Federation’s first event of 2022, held in the Kingdom of Bahrain. “The Latest” defied all odds and became the first-ever Arab double division World Champion in the history of Mixed Martial Arts, knocking out bitter rival Mohamed Said Maalem and becoming the new Light Heavyweight World Champion of BRAVE CF.
Middleweight world champion Mohammad “The Latest” Fakhreddine and top light heavyweight contender Mohamed “L’Ambience” Said Maalem, were scheduled to fight for the vacant light heavyweight world title at BRAVE CF 50 on April 1, 2021, but Fakhreddine contracted a virus, and over his strenuous objections, minutes before the event, the medical team deemed him unable to compete. Fakhreddine’s last-minute withdrawal didn’t sit at all well with Said Maalem, who went on a social media tirade, branding the Lebanese legend “disrespectful,” and eventually turning the competitive rivalry into a bitter, personal feud, with Fakhreddine biting back on social media.
The fight was rescheduled to the main event of Brave CF 52: Bad Blood, in Milan, Italy, on August 1st, but that bout ended in massive controversy, ultimately a No Contest and more, well, Bad Blood.
Finally, at BRAVE CF 57, Fakhreddine proved his worth as a legend of the sport in the Middle East and beyond and pulled off the unthinkable: becoming the first Arab champ-champ in global MMA history.
If extraordinary power was an entry in an MMA dictionary, it would accompany a picture of Mohamed Said Maalem. “L’Ambiance” defeated the uber powerful Zvonimir Kralj in less than one round. He defeated “The Black Hulk” Todd Stoute. Said Maalem is power personified.
However, Mohammad “The Latest” Fakhreddine too possesses astonishing knockout power. Eleven of his fourteen career victories came by way of knockout. And his power is growing – not a single one of his last seven wins had gone the distance.
Arguably the biggest story heading into BRAVE International Combat Week, the bitter, bad-blood fuelled grudge match between Fakhreddine and Maalem was originally thought to have already been settled, however the decision of the Italian commission following BRAVE CF 52 reignited the flames adding gas into fire. The animosity built following Fakhreddine’s withdrawal at BRAVE CF 50 did not just carry over to Italy, however continued to bubble making their date with fate at Khalifa Sports City one of the most highly anticipated match-ups in the Middle East.
Fakhreddine managed to get a stunning TKO in the very first round to put the exclamation point on an emphatic performance, and he also put the rubber stamp on his rivalry with Algeria’s Said Maalem. The finish has since become a controversial moment with fans arguing the legitimacy of the finish.
To add fire to the flames, Fakhreddine’s former rival Taher Hadbi entered the cage to aid his fallen friend and received an invaders welcome by Fakhreddine and his crew. Hadbi is a fellow friend and countryman of Said Maalem and was in his corner leading up to and during the fight. Hadbi had encountered Fakhreddine twice in his career, with the first match resulting in a no contest and the second with a slugfest KO victory to Hadbi.
Following referee Aaron Wallace’s interference, Fakhreddine celebrated his victory in style with the team huddled up chanting his name and rejoicing in this historical moment. He is now the first ever Arab double weight world champion in the history of mixed martial arts; he now holds the BRAVE CF Middleweight World Title, as well as being the newly crowned Light Heavyweight World Champion.
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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