UAE Warriors: Hammami and Diani ready for historic unification clash in Abu Dhabi

Africa champion takes on Arabia belt holder with both titles on the line at Etihad Arena

Wisem Hammami at the UAE Warriors press conference ahead of his unification bout with Badreddine Diani. Victor Besa / The National
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Wisem Hammami is confident he will replicate his win over Badreddine Diani when they meet for the UAE Warriors Arabia welterweight title at the Etihad Arena on Friday.

In their previous encounter, Italy-based Tunisian Hammami stopped Diani in the second round to take the Africa belt, and he now bids to become the first UAE Warriors dual champion when facing the same opponent in the headline bout at Arabia 12.

“I’m in better shape than when I met him in March last year and I’m going to smash him up and stop him again in the second round,” said Hammami, who holds a professional MMA record of seven wins and one defeat.

“I have trained and am feeling better than ever. This is my fourth appearance in the promotion. It has been a wonderful place for me to come and compete. I was the first Africa champion and now watch me take the Arabia belt.”

Since their first fight, Hammami’s undefeated run was ended when he suffered a first-round loss to Dutchman Brian Hooi in the UAE Warriors International in his last fight in July last year.

“That’s behind me and I’m back in familiar waters," Hammami, 26, said. "The important thing is it’s another title contest and I’m very confident.”

Morocco's Diani, meanwhile, enters the rematch on the back of successive wins, which includes claiming the Arabia title and extending his record to six wins and two losses. It means both the Africa and Arabia titles will be on the line at Etihad Arena.

“I’m ready to take [Hammami] on this time and defend my Arabia title,” Diani said.

“Everyone is going to see a different fighter. I have had two wins since that defeat, and I return stronger and better prepared. I don’t want to say anything more than that, but we’ll see who comes out as the winner on the night.”

Fouad Darwish, chief executive officer of Palms Sports, the owners of UAE Warriors, said the promotion always had the plan to deliver a unification night.

“We have seven belts and one day we want to have seven unification title fights with the international division included,” he said.

“Since we began the Arabia and Africa tournaments, we have seen remarkable talent arrive from these regions. We were planning to have unification matches in 2026 and 2027 and now we see this happening right now.”

Also on the Arabia 12 fight card is a thrilling clash between Kuwaiti fan favourite Abdullah Boushehri (9-4) and Egypt’s Adham Mohamed (6-1) in the co-main event of the evening.

Boushehri is known for his exciting finishes and has delivered eight first-round stoppages.

Elsewhere, Eman Almudhaf (2-0) faces Haiat Farag Youssef (1-1) in a women’s featherweight contest.

Mahmoud Abd El Raouf (4-0) and Wasem Anwar (3-0) put their undefeated records on the line, while knockout artist Abdi Farah (4-3) collides with Maraoune Bellagouit (2-0), and the UAE’s Mohamed Al Katheeri (1-1) takes on Shehab Noaman (2-1) of Egypt.

Arabia 12 will be followed on Saturday by the International card featuring fighters from 20 countries on at the same venue.

Headlining the card will be an exciting bout between Brazilian Alex da Silva (22-5) against Kyrgyzstan’s Bagysh Zharmamatov (8-2), which will be supported by Canada’s Xavier Alaoui (14-4) versus China’s Baergeng Jieleyisi (14-5) in the co-main event.

Updated: August 24, 2023, 8:34 AM