Mohamed Said Maalem will step inside the cage on Friday, March 11, knowing that the people of Algeria will be rallying behind him as he eyes to capture the vacant BRAVE CF Light Heavyweight World Championship.
Said Maalem is slated to go head-to-head with fierce rival and middleweight kingpin Mohammad “The Latest” Fakhreddine in a rematch for the unoccupied throne at 205 pounds at BRAVE CF 57, which takes place at the Khalifa Sports City Arena in Isa Town, Bahrain.
“L’Ambiance” shared that his fans in Algeria are the driving force of his World Championship bid as he received a warm reception when he visited the country after his first meeting with Fakhreddine at BRAVE CF 52: Bad Blood in August of last year.
“After my victory against Fakhreddine, I got a lot of requests and calls, support from everybody back in Algeria. I was in the news, and I even got messages from renowned athletes. I was happy with their reactions, support and engagement. I did not expect to be welcomed by the minister of sports and youth, by athletes, by fans, by journalists. They all came to see me at the airport,” he recalled.
“People were hosting parties for me. They were telling me, ‘you’re the champion, you’re the pride of Algeria, you’re the best Algerian fighter that Algeria ever knew.’”
But what made the trip memorable was the homecoming he received from Annaba—the city where Said Maalem spent most of his childhood.
“I went to Annaba, my hometown, and I saw my pictures on the walls. Families and their kids came to celebrate. They invited me to dinner at their homes. It was a celebration like no other. I’ve never experienced it before,” he mentioned.
Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived as the Italian Federation of Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts—the sanctioning body tasked to supervise the bout—decided to overturn the outcome of the match following a thorough investigation.
It was found that there were illegal strikes made by Said Maalem on Fakhreddine in the final sequence, something that contributed to the stoppage of the match.
Now, the two will have to run it back with a chance to have a much more definitive ending and crown the new BRAVE CF Light Heavyweight World Champion.