Cape Town — The heated rivalry between Mohammad Fakhreddine and Team Said Maalem will have to be put on ice following the news of Fakhreddine’s Professional Fighters League (PFL) signing.
The PFL announced this week the acquisition of the BRAVE CF double champion (middleweight and light heavyweight) and former UAE Warriors star, Syria’s Tarek Suleiman (12-8).
The signings expand PFL’s global talent roster in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, which last year included former BRAVE CF super welterweight champion, Jordan’s Jarrah Al-Silawi (18-3) who had graduated from the PFL Challenger Series to the official fighting roster.
“The Professional Fighters League is pleased to announce the addition of Mohammad Fakhreddine and Tarek Suleiman to our global MMA fighter roster,” PFL CEO Peter Murray said.
“The PFL takes great care in scouting and signing the best MMA athletes from around the world, and we are committed to further developing the sport in the Middle East starting with signing top fighters from the region and staging year-round events in the UAE.”
Ray Sefo, President of Fighter Operations of PFL said: “We will put these athletes on a global stage, including MBC in the MENA region and other major media networks around the world to showcase the growing talent pool from this region.”
The 37-year-old Fakhreddine joins the PFL roster with 15 career (15-4) wins with the Lebanese’ last win coming against long-time rival Mohamed Said Maalem (11-4) to become the first-ever Arab double-division world champion.
Prior to this fight, these two athletes were set to meet in April last year at BRAVE CF 50 before Fakhreddine fell ill due to a virus. The news was not well-received by his opponent who began a trash-talking onslaught, which Fakhreddine entertained via social media.
The fight was then rescheduled for Brave CF 52: Bad Blood, in Milan, Italy, on August 1, but that bout ended in a No Contest leading to more “bad blood”.
Eventually the two got to settle their rivalry at BRAVE CF 57 (Khalifa Sport City, Bahrain) which saw the Lebanese finish his Algerian rival in the second round of their championship bout via TKO (due to strikes).
What should have been a beautiful moment for Fakhreddine quickly turned ugly when he started taunting Said Maalem’s corner - which just so happened to have former opponent, Algeria’s Tahar Hadbi (14-8) in it. Hadbi beat Fakhreddine back in 2018 and was brought into Said Maalem’s camp to assist his countryman.
The focus of the night quickly turned to Hadbi and Fakhreddine squaring off in the cage post-fight, which lead to referee Aaron Wallace having to step in to curb the chaos that had transpired. While there were rumors of Said Maalem wanting a rematch with Fakhreddine, it was Hadbi who had poked at the double champion for a trilogy fight after their first fight also ended in a No Contest.
For now, Fakhreddine’s only focus will be on getting to the 2022 PFL World Championships and the $1million purse that comes with it.
The second half of the 2022 PFL Regular Season continues on Friday from OTE Arena at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, with the final Regular Season event on July 1.