Mohammad Yahya 'excited' to defend title as UAE Warriors get set for triple-header

Etihad Arena stages three nights of MMA action with many title fights on the cards

Mohammad Yahya is the first Emirati MMA champion. He defends his title at UAE Warriors Arabia on Sunday at the Etihad Arena. Champs Sports Club, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Mohammad Yahya goes for his first Arabia title defence on the UAE Warriors' biggest weekend – a triple header mixed martial arts championship cards across three nights at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

The fight card gets underway with the UAE Warriors Africa-2 on Friday followed by the UAE Warriors-28 (International) on Saturday and the UAE Warriors Arabia-7 on Sunday.

The three-day event features more than 80 fighters from 45 countries with plenty of titles on the line. The biggest weekend in the history of UAE Warriors will be broadcast live around the world on UFC Fight Pass.

Yahya (10-3) is the first Emirati to hold an MMA title and defends his UAE Warriors Arabia lightweight crown against Moroccan Mohamed El Jaghdal (7-4).

“I’m ready and it’s going to be my best performance on the night,” Yahya said. “I have been in the training camp since winning my last bout and the title, and this is going to be another big night for me, as it was when I was fighting for the title.

“I am very excited to fight at the Etihad Arena. The bout is over five rounds and I would like to think we would reach a decisive point in the fourth or fifth round.”

Fouad Darwish, chief executive officer of Palms Sports, believes the triple header across three categories is another milestone for the Abu Dhabi promotion.

“With the UAE Warriors Arabia and newly launched UAE Warriors Africa series of events, we are providing a global stage for athletes from Arab and African heritage to propel their career,” he said. “The UAE Warriors International events showcase athletes from around the world.

“We now have three different categories in our promotion both as a platform providing potential athletes to make it into the big stage in the MMA world as well as our international fight cards to provide a stage for the established ones.”

It’s the first time the Abu Dhabi-based promotion is staging a triple header and Darwish said they would hold a meeting to assess the first experience before moving forward.

“We’ll sit with the experts as well as some of the fighters to decide if it’s a good idea or a bad idea when we evaluate our first experience of the triple header,” he said. “If it’s a good idea we’ll do it again and if it’s a bad idea we’ll still do it again until it becomes a good idea.”

On the UAE Warriors planned calendar, Darwish said they have one fight night scheduled for June, two each in August, October and November, but added it can change.

The highlights of this weekend’s fight card include the first-ever title contest of the UAE Warriors Africa between Moroccan Badreddine Diani (4-1) and the Palestine-born Italian Wisem Hammami (6-0) for the welterweight title.

Syrian Tarek Suleiman (12-7) takes on Ireland’s Will Fleury (9-4) in the UAE Warriors world middleweight title, while Canadian Corinne Laframboise (7-4) faces Venezuelan Carolina Jimenez (7-0) for the women’s flyweight world title which was recently vacated by France’s Manon Fiorot, who has moved to UFC.

Jordanian Ali Al Qaisi (11-5) is attempting to earn his third successive title when he meets Ahmed Faress of Egypt (16-4) for the inaugural UAE Warriors Arabia featherweight championship.

Updated: March 26, 2022, 10:26 AM