Brave MMA focused more on fighter talent than marketability

Brave MMA CEO, Mohammed Shahid talks promoting fighters, WMMA, global expansion and building amateur fighters.

2016 was a big year for Bahrain based MMA organization, Brave MMA Combat Federation which held 2 successful events featuring global talent. Both shows were based in Bahrain and featured the likes of former UFC fighters Masio Fullen and Walel Watson, UK welterweight prospect Carl Booth and Bahrain’s Hamza Kooheji.

The focus for the organization is to grow the talent, which Brave MMA CEO Mohammed Shahid stressed on when talking about promotion.

“We don’t care about the promotion’s attention. One thing we’ve been going through in MMA is that the promotions get the attention and not the fighters.”

“In the fight game although it’s about the individual athlete, there can be a day where athletes don’t have to be working so hard on being marketable but as long as they work 18 hours a day just focusing on the talent they’ll be considered as the best fighters and they’ll be paid as much and get that recognition and that’s one of the most important things for us.”

Attending the BAMMA and Bellator 169 shows in Ireland, Shahid had his eye on a lot of the fighters taking part. One of them being SBG’s rising star James Gallagher who is part of the KHK team which features the likes of Frankie Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gallagher picked up an impressive submission win over Anthony Taylor moving his professional record to 5-0.

The fighter that caught Shahid’s attention the most actually lost, Elina Kallionidou who suffered a decision loss to prospect Sinead Kavanagh. What impressed him the most was the heart Elina showed as she stepped in on short notice to take on the heavily touted Kavanagh.

“One of those girls, Elina she was fighting Sinead Kavanagh and took the fight on 5 days notice I guess,” Shahid explained. “Sinead is supposed to be one of the best fighters in Ireland and Elina looked smaller than Sinead but she put on a really good fight, she showed good heart, took some tough punches and suffered a lot of punishment but was still strong so that was impressive to see.”

Although Brave MMA’s current roster does not feature any females, the scouting process has begun. Shahid confirmed to me that WMMA is definitely a part of their plans moving forward.

“Definitely, females are such a big part of it and we have something big for the females as well. I think in the Middle East and Asian circuit females are coming up. We want to show that these athletes who have been having a lack of attention all these years, we want to build a plan for them that will give them that kind of attention.”

Having recently held a press conference in India, Shahid boasted Brave MMA’s plans to expand to India, Middle East, Brazil and Europe. Shahid talked about the lack of attention these international fighters get and their plans to cater to their promotion.

“Guys like Ahmed Amir, nobody in the international circuit really knew who he was and he beat some of the top guys in the industry, showcasing that the Middle East has some top fighters,” Shahid said.

“So have the Indian fighters, we have Mohammed Farhad who came and fought against this Moroccan kid who had 21 fights in his kickboxing record and he knocked him out. We never knew India was so good at striking so it shows the different level of fighters that are being brought in from these areas that haven’t been getting attention yet and Brave wants to give them that platform and give them international attention.”

Selling the fights and the talent is a big responsibility and focus for the growing organization. In an era where trash talk and persona are the succeeding factors, Shahid explains that the goal is to make stars through talent and exciting fights.

“I think there’s a lot of responsibility in the hands of the promotion. We still have the responsibility to sell the fight and to sell the talent. It’s our responsibility to sell everything that’s genuine in mixed martial arts. That’s the vision of his highness, he doesn’t care about the business side as much as the sport side and I think this might open a lot of doors for promoters and promotions to use the same vision to focus more on selling talent. Everything else that comes out of it like the Conor McGregor attitude is a bonus.”

The next stop for Brave MMA is on the 25th of February in Curitiba, Brazil. This will be the first time that the organization has held an event outside of Bahrain and plans on going completely global in 2017.

“We’re going to announce a set calendar soon so that’s going to be a big announcement coming in the next 5-6 days,” Shahid said. “We’re looking at least 8-9 events in the Middle East, we’ve already done a press conference in India and Ireland so our next goal is to expand to Europe, India and Brazil. We’ll be announcing something very interesting for the European region in the coming days.”

Another exciting announcement for the organization is top UFC contender Frankie Edgar who will be serving as part of the live commentary in Curitiba, Brazil. The KHK managed fighter will draw huge attention to the show, attracting the avid fans of the sport.

“Yes we’re looking for Frankie to commentate our Brave MMA event in Curitiba, Brazil and I’m very excited because he’s a legend in this sport and he knows the sport better than everybody else. He’s one of those athletes where nobody has a bad thing to say about him, he’s been respected in the MMA industry worldwide so I think he’s the best person I could ever think of to be a part of Brave Combat Federation and commentate for our event.”

Brave MMA signed a new TV deal which allowed their last event to be televised in almost 15 different countries. In the coming year, fans all over the world should be able to get full access of all the events, broadcasted live.

“We signed with ABS CBN in almost 15 countries but mostly in South East Asia. We have a deal with OSN for the people in the Middle East and in USA we have Myx TV so in total we were going live in almost 20 countries and we also had a live stream on For the Brave 3 event we’re trying to get Brave to as many countries as possible.”

Another focus for his highness Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad and Shahid is growing the local amateur scene in Bahrain. The KHK team and gym features a lot of talent that will look to emerge onto the pro MMA scene in the coming future.

“We’re definitely going to develop the amateur level,” Shahid said. “We’re going to make sure we have more amateur competitions in the country. We already announced the IMMAF world championships to come to Bahrain in 2017 and that’s going to be the first time the IMMAF Amateur World Championship is going to come out of the UFC Fight Week in Vegas and come to any other part of the world so it’s a great feeling for us.”

A big year ahead for Brave MMA and MMA in Bahrain as the global expansion starts in Curitiba, Brazil on the 25th of February. The Brazil card may also feature the first championship fight for Brave although not confirmed yet. Building both the amateur and professional fighters, Brave is providing a platform for international fighters to shine.

“We’re going to have 4-5 more Brave events in Bahrain, that’s where it started and we want the people to enjoy more of Brave in the country. We’re going to have a lot of MMA to be seen in Bahrain in 2017 and I think it’s something for Bahrain to be proud of, to have Brave MMA to be based out of Bahrain and go worldwide, hold a lot of events and benefit a lot of fighters.”