Ali Al Qaisi enjoying the spotlight as UAE Warriors celebrate milestone 50th event

Palms Sports chief Fouad Darwish lauds phenomenal progress of the Abu Dhabi promotion in five years

Jordanian Ali Al Qaisi is one of the most popular MMA fighters in the region. Pawan Singh / The National
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The UAE Warriors will be celebrating their milestone 50th event this weekend and marking the event will be Ali Al Qaisi who features in the main featherweight title contest at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre Marina on Saturday.

The Jordanian meets Sweden's Samuel Bark in the main contest of the 12-fight card that also includes a welterweight title fight between Russian Shakhban Alkhasov and Tahir Abdulaev of Azerbaijan and a flyweight title clash between Yamato Fujita of Japan and Brazilian Iago Ribeiro.

But the spotlight will be on Al Qaisi who is one of the most popular MMA fighters in the region and draws the biggest and most passionate crowd when he appears for the Abu Dhabi promotion.

So, it’s no surprise that Al Qaisi considers Abu Dhabi his home away from home.

“When I travel to Abu Dhabi, I’m greeted by people as a member of their family. I always want to put on a show for them and their presence and support inspire me more,” Al Qaisi said.

“I’m super excited to be in the spotlight in the promotion’s milestone 50th event. I not only want to win but want to win convincingly and want to put up show for everyone.”

Al Qaisi is Jordan’s first fighter to feature in two UFC contests. He went down to Mexican Irwin Rivera in a split decision in August 2022 and got beaten by American Tony Kelley by unanimous decision two months later before being released.

Since then, he has featured in the UAE Warriors in eight fights, winning six and suffering two defeats for an overall record of 15-7. He also holds the promotion’s Arabia and International titles.

“It’s a promotion that I want to be associated with for as long as possible, and obviously want to defend my two titles for as long as possible,” Al Qaisi said.

“We as professional fighters have a limited period of time to ply our trade and we need to make the most of it. I find the UAE Warriors well established and a promotion that’s going to go places.”

Fouad Darwish, chief executive officer of Palms Sports, the management company of the promotion, said he was proud of their phenomenal growth as an organisation.

“It’s only our fifth year during which two and a half years were interrupted by the pandemic. They were unprecedented times but being in Abu Dhabi, nothing derails our objective of becoming an international event,” Darwish said.

“Sometimes you do things and you don't take note of them. To have 798 fighters from 112 nationalities living in over 100 countries to come to Abu Dhabi in five years is a success.

“Our coverage is global, being aired on UFC Fight Pass is a credit to Palms Sports and UAE Warriors.

“We introduced the UAE Warriors Arabia and then the UAE Warriors Africa, and for the first time we have unified it as Arabia-Africa. There is impeccable talent that needs to be highlighted and that's what we have done at UAE Warriors.”

Updated: May 16, 2024, 2:37 PM