Saudi-based MMA fighter confident ahead of debut in sport’s second-largest league

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A Saudi-based mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter says he is feeling good about his debut fight in the sport’s second-largest organization on Friday night.

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Abdullah al-Qahtani, who trains at Riyadh Combat Club, is taking on the American Lamar Brown in the featherweight matchup for the Professional Fighting League (PFL) event in Atlanta.

The Moroccan-born martial artist spoke to Al Arabiya English ahead of his fight.

“I’m feeling good and super excited about this fight. Although I’m going to be competing in a different place and a different country, it is okay for me,” he said.

“Another fight is another chance to win.”

Al-Qahtani started training in 2016 and had his first professional fight just two years later.

For this fight, he spent ten weeks training in Thailand, which is home to some of the best martial artists in the world with its homegrown sport of Muay Thai.

Cutting weight on Thursday, al-Qahtani came face-to-face with his opponent Brown.

Although Brown appeared physically bigger, al-Qahtani feels confident ahead of the bout.

“He said something to me, but I felt that he is not comfortable coming into this fight.”

“I think Lamar is bigger in size and has a bigger upper body, but I think I am better than him in all areas in terms of skillsets.”

Al-Qahtani is keen to climb to the top of MMA, and said that he wants to become the best fighter in the world.

He lives with his mother and grandmother in the Kingdom, and he says that his family has supported him in his journey so far.

“What I love about MMA is that I have my mother’s support throughout my journey… She pushed me and encouraged me to do well in my fights.”

“I see my mom and my family behind me and it is so good. I love that.”

The PFL is the second-largest MMA organization in the world in terms of Nielson viewership ratings and the number of countries it is broadcast in (140), behind the well-established Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The upstart organization has made waves since it was founded in 2017, signing major names including Francis Ngannou who departed the UFC as reigning champion.

It is also the only MMA organizer that has a league season format. Fighters compete for points across a season and are automatically matched against similarly-ranked opponents.

The fight can be streamed live on MBC’s Shahid platform starting at 2 a.m. Saturday morning Saudi time.

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