With 5-3 Brazilian bantamweight Michael Deiga-Scheck announcing that he has been forced to withdraw from his Brave CF 10: The Kingdom Rises bout with Nawras ‘The Honey Badger’ Abzakh due to an unfortunate injury, the stage looks set for a grudge match between Jordanian Abzakh and top-ranked Egyptian Ahmed ‘The Prince’ Faress (14-2). After all, in September 2017, Abzakh promised he would make a ‘highlight reel’ out of Faress in an interview with arabsmma.com.
The source of inspiration for these words, as well as the denouncement of Tapology’s ranking system, was a feeling that the then-undefeated 6-0 Abzakh was not only a superior mixed martial artist compared to Faress, but also many of the fighters ranked directly beneath him as well. Abzakh’s confidence raised ‘The Prince’s’ ire, and a week later Faress dismissed Abzakh’s comments as envious and the result of an innate frustration. Promising to teach the upstart a ‘life lesson’ if or when Brave would choose to make the bout, Faress waited.
For him, it was a case of challenge issued; challenge accepted.
Life, however, had other plans in the immediate aftermath of the verbal back-and-forth between the two. In November of last year, outstanding Brazilian Felipe Efrain (11-2) found himself in need of a new opponent when Frenchman Arnold ‘Silverback’ Quero pulled out of their Brave CF 9: The Kingdom of Champions bout from Khalifa Sports City, Bahrain. Faress threw his name in the hat; but it would be the undefeated Abzakh that would get the nod ahead of ‘The Prince’.
Abzakh, to his credit, fought bravely against Efrain, but, overwhelmed, succumbed to a first round TKO defeat. No shame in that; Efrain, most likely, will pose Brave CF Bantamweight Champion Stephen Loman (10-2) severe and serious problems should they meet in the near future.
Fast forward to Brave 10: The Kingdom Rises, however and Brave CF announced a debut show in the Kingdom of Jordan – home, no less, to Abzakh himself. Nawras’ inclusion, should come as no surprise, but rather be seen as a savvy bit of match making. On that front, his opponent, Deiga-Scheck, looked well-pitched to meet the needs of the home town crowd, no disrespect intended to the German-based Brazilian – Abzakh would have been a firm favourite, albeit not a certainty to win.
With the news that Deiga-Scheck would not be able to compete in Amman, though, all eyes have turned to the potential settling of the score between Abzakh and Faress. Ahmed, for his part, has been vocal on social media about his desire to step in for the injured Brazilian – and while his challenge remains unanswered by Abzakh and his team, Faress is pushing for answers.
“Why are you waiting?” Faress asks. “You challenged me three months ago, and I immediately accepted. Now your opponent is injured, I have challenged you for a fight in five weeks in your home town. Why haven’t you answered? Was your spirit broken in your last fight?
A rejection of this bout by Brave CF’s matchmakers will undoubtedly be looked upon as an example of a risk averse, crowd pleasing exercise, particularly if Abzakh’s opponent proves to be below the level of Tapology’s number one-ranked bantamweight – but even so, the silence appears to be deafening from Abzakh and his team. If they were to accept, they might force Brave’s hand into giving fans a bout that would determine, once and for all, who the number one bantamweight fighter in the Middle East is.
What do you feel the most compelling fight at Brave CF 10: The Kingdom Rises is? Who would you have Abzakh face?