A third meeting between Ali Al Qaisi and Jesse Arnett for the UAE Warriors featherweight belt is “definitely” set to take place early next year, Palms Sports chief executive officer Fouad Darwish has confirmed.
The title rematch was the promotion’s biggest draw in its three-year history and will now get even bigger when they meet for the third time with the head-to-head record standing at 1-1.
Arnett won the belt when they met for the first time on July 2. The Canadian opened a deep cut above Al Qaisi’s left eye before the ringside doctor stopped the contest in the second round, leaving the “Royal Fighter” fuming.
The Jordanian avenged that defeat in the rematch with a guillotine choke on Arnett one minute and 25 seconds into the third round at the Etihad Arena last Saturday.
“The rematch last week was by far the biggest show of our promotion and a third meeting of Al Qaisi-Arnett is definitely on the card for early next year,” Darwish told The National on Monday.
“The title rematch set a new benchmark with a record-breaking night for us last Saturday, and it indeed was the most exhilarating and most successful UAE Warriors fight card ever done.
“We expect the next rematch to be even bigger, and perhaps a blockbuster. We want to engage all resources before finalising a date in what would be a very busy period for sports in Abu Dhabi.”
According to Darwish, the UAE Warriors 33 was inundated with messages of appreciation from mixed martial arts fans at home, the region and rest of the world.
“We have had endless appreciation of this fight card, highlighted by the Ali-Jesse title rematch,” he said.
“The fan participation and engagement through our social media and digital platforms, and the mainstream media was fantastic.
“We are very proud for what we have done. Not only bringing a big crowd for this fight card but engaging fans from all over the world. In terms of engagement, I haven’t seen anything like this before.”
The UAE Warriors, in only its third year, has been able to put many competitive fight cards which Darwish believes had a lot to do with the location - Abu Dhabi.
“Being in UAE and Abu Dhabi gives us an advantage,” he said.
“Today, everyone who wants to become a hero comes to Abu Dhabi and the UAE. We are capitalising on this. We have our next fight card scheduled for October and two more in November.
“We have an ample supply of fighters wanting to be part of the UAE Warriors. We take care of them. We don’t wait for them to get into the cage to look after them. We do it when they are in their homes.”
Darwish pointed to the hospitality and care given to the fighters, under the generous patronage of the UAE President Sheikh Mohamed.
“It’s true we see MMA as a business. But we also believe in building bridges by showcasing young talents, assisting those who are in dire need for recognition, assist them in training and take care of medical concerns before and after their time with the UAE Warriors,” Darwish explained.
Darwish doesn’t compare the promotion with the likes of the UFC, Bellator, PFL (Professional Fighters League) and the One Championship, but insisted they want to be the biggest and the best in their own way by 2025.
“In our wildest dreams we never thought we’ll have such an attendance and following on our digital platforms last Saturday,” he said.
“We had 26 fighters from 19 nationalities, and down the line, I don’t think any organisation has been able to bring fighters from 87 different nationalities like our promotion has in three years.”
The UAE Warriors have plans to stage fights outside the UAE in North America and a city in the region.
“We definitely have surprises coming up with a first fight card outside the UAE,” Darwish added.
“We don’t have a definite date set for this but we are preparing to have a fight card in North America or somewhere around this region. It’s a matter of time.”