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Qatar, a key step for mixed martial arts in the Middle East

Qatar, a key step for mixed martial arts in the Middle East
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Euronews
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Mixed martial arts keep growing in popularity in Qatar. The Gulf region stands as a promising market for international organisations like ONE and PFL.

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Combat sports fans can be found all across the Middle East, and martial arts organisations like the One Championship group are keen to capitalise on the demand. The Qatar 365 team had front-row seats at the historic ONE Championship's debut tournament in Qatar.

During the action-packed fight night at the Lusail Sports Arena, international fighters like undefeated MMA champion Anatoly Malykhin treated the fans to a world-class show. The event also showcased champions from the MENA region, including Iranian heavyweight Amir Aliakbari, who is considered the best chance to bring a gold belt to the Middle East.

Aadel Haleem spoke with ONE Championship founder and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, who discussed why martial arts values — respect, humility, resilience, integrity, courage, discipline, and a warrior spirit are instilled into his fighters.  Beyond the misconception of violence, he added, "Martial arts is one of the greatest platforms to unleash human potential."

Laila Humairah got a closer look at another MMA group, the Professional Fighters League. She met with up-and-coming PFL fighters and spoke to Biaggio Ali Walsh, the grandson of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.  Biaggio is forging his own path in combat sports and says that although pressure comes along with the legacy of his grandfather's career, he's not afraid of it. "Pressure makes diamonds. I hope that one day I become a diamond because of all the pressure", he told Laila.

Laila also met with Hattan Saif, the first-ever Saudi woman to sign a deal with an international MMA league. Hattan is on the PFL's Middle East and North Africa roster. The 22-year-old fighter feels it is her duty to inspire and empower other girls to overcome societal barriers.

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