It's safe to say that most professional Mixed Martial Artists will go through an entire career without having a single "No Contest" on their records. What about having two-in-a-row on your first two fights with a new promotion?
Well, this unusual scenario was exactly the one in which Tahar Hadbi saw himself when he arrived at BRAVE Combat Federation. Even more impressive is that, despite the adverse circumstances, Hadbi was able to place himself among the best Welterweights in the world very quickly. He returns this Saturday after a 17-month layoff to reclaim his place at the top of the Welterweight food chain at BRAVE CF, as he takes on Giannis Bachar in the main event of BRAVE CF 39.
Back in 2017, "Fast Hands" debuted as an event headliner in India. His opponent was England's Carl "The Bomber" Booth. At BRAVE CF 5, Hadbi and Booth had an even contest, with high-level striking going back-and-forth, but the bout ended without a result due to timekeeping issues.
Tahar wasn't comfortable with his shaky beginning in his new home and asked for the toughest challenge available. His wish was granted by BRAVE CF officials and the French-Algerian was matched against Lebanon's Mohammed "The Latest" Fakhreddine.
With two strong personalities on opposite sides of the cage, the bout at BRAVE CF 9, the very first edition of BRAVE International Combat Week back in 2017, quickly became the biggest rivalry in the history of Middle Eastern MMA.
Publicly and privately, Hadbi and Fakhreddine engaged in a war of words and promised fireworks when the cage doors finally closed. The two went for it right away and what the fans saw was the clash of power vs precision that they were expecting.
Against all odds, though, Hadbi's second consecutive fight under BRAVE CF’s banner also came to an end with another No Contest. Tahar connected with an accidental low blow and Fakhreddine couldn’t recover from the groin shot. The bout was then declared a no contest, given the lack of intention from Tahar's side.
He knew, on the other hand, that there was only one way to break the "curse of No Contests": meeting his bitter rival Mohammed Fakhreddine inside the cage and finishing him. And that's exactly what he did, in devastating fashion.
Roughly four months after their first encounter, Hadbi and Fakhreddine met once more, this time in Jordan. Hadbi was aware of the issues that made the last bout end in a no-contest and this time aimed almost exclusively for the head.
The strategy worked and halfway through the second round, Tahar Hadbi stopped Mohammad Fakhreddine, becoming the winning side of the biggest rivalry in Middle Eastern Mixed Martial Arts.
Recovered from the rocky start, Hadbi was then awarded a title eliminator against Jarrah Al-Selawe. The bout took place in Indonesia, in May of 2018. Tahar put on a very good performance, with his fast combinations causing damage to Al-Selawe, but a broken arm in the first round prevented him from being more aggressive with his attacks, and Jarrah ended up winning and going on to fight for the title - and win.
While on the losing side of the title eliminator, Hadbi proved that he wasn't just skills and fast hands. He was also one of the toughest fighters in the world, something that he's keen to remind the Welterweight division when he meets Bachar at BRAVE CF 39.
Returning after a long hiatus, Hadbi is ready to prove that the unusual experience he gathered in his first four fights inside BRAVE Combat Federation were only shaping the current moment of his career and that he's ready to start another title run.
Image Courtesy: BRAVE CF