Ilyass Habibali was rewarded with a muaythai intercontinental light heavyweight title belt and a spot at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, following a successful outing at Festival City in Dubai.
The Emirati outclassed Spaniard Angel Marquez by unanimous decision to win the World Muaythai Council (WMC) light middleweight title at the Muaythai Pro 6 Championships and earn enough points for a ticket to next year’s World Games in the United States from July 7-17.
Habibali said the intercontinental belt is a great addition to the gold medals he won at the World Championships in Mexico in 2018 and the Asian Championships in Abu Dhabi in 2019.
“It’s another prestigious title to win and I’m glad I did for the UAE,” Habibali told The National after the UAE Muaythai and Kickboxing Federation’s season-ending championships on Friday night.
“I am delighted with the result. It was all down to hard work and the support of our federation. I have many people to thank, particularly our management and the technical staff.
“It indeed is a very proud moment for me and the UAE to win the main contest in the 15-fight card on the night.”
Habibali dominated the contest with a combination of punches and high kicks throughout the five rounds. Marquez put up a brave performance but was unable to match the Emirati, who dominated as the fight went on.
“I thought I was clearly on top after the first three rounds and went for the knockout, but Marquez was a strong fighter and he managed to stand up until the end,” Habibali said.
Marquez suffered a cut to his forehead from a hard elbow from Habibali in the final round but remained on his feet.
Habibali made two successful appearances at the K-1 Kickboxing championships at the Festival City in Dubai before suffering a narrow defeat to Mikita Shostak of Belarus in the K-1 Muaythai Royal Battle at Emirates Palace Hotel on March 26.
The 2019-20 season was severely disrupted following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“After the Asian Muaythai Championships in December 2019, we had a break of more than nine months before the K-1 competitions,” Habibali said.
“Two kickboxing and two muaythai competitions this season was good for me. I’ll now take a little break to recover and be ready for the new UAE season around October.
“It’s going to be a busy 2022 with the World Games in the US and the World Championship in Abu Dhabi. So, hoping to be back in training soon after the short break.”
While Habibali celebrated, his teammates Amine El Moatassime and Zakaria El Jamari both suffered defeats.
El Moatassime had to retire in round three with a knee injury against Italian Francesco Iadanza in the intercontinental middleweight title contest while El Jamari went down to Phillip Delarmino of the Philippines in the Asian featherweight belt fight.
In the other title fight on the card, France’s European champion Myriame Djedidi scored a unanimous decision over Ines Es Salehy of Belgium to take the women’s flyweight belt.