Bahrain changing the perception of MMA in the Middle East

KHK Bahrain

August marked the opening chapter of Bahrain’s announcement on the world stage of professional Mixed Martial Arts, with the announcement of KHK MMA, a Bahrain based stable of international and Bahraini fighters, personally backed by team founder Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, First Deputy president of the Supreme Council for Youth and Sports, who financially supports and sponsors the team members. The office of H.H. Sheikh Khalid summarised the positive reaction that KHK has received from across the globe, with encouraging praise and acknowledgment from the American media. KHK is part of the Bahraini grand plan to ignite MMA on a national level, in addition announcing the Middle Eastern island as a major player on the world stage. The intent speaks for itself with this being a government backed scheme, personally overseen by H.H. Sheikh Khalid, the Bahraini prince. The KHK plan of action has been highly effective thus far, it began with amateur roots and a national team competing at the 2015 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA. Trials were hosted to decide team members with thousands of spectators turning up to observe, highlighting that level of intrigue that MMA holds for the Bahraini people. Following the IMMAF World Championships, KHK was announced with a developed stable of fighters, now including international names such as 2 x IMMAF bantamweight word champion Jose Torres of the USA, and IMMAF featherweight world champion Frans Mlambo of Ireland. In addition, SBG Ireland’s John Kavanagh had come on board as head coach, alongside standout UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, with former UFC champion Frankie Edgar and Renzo Gracie also present for the KHK launch. Bahrain now had the world’s attention. As the office of H.H. Sheikh Khalid expressed enjoyment of the momentum gathered thus far, the presence of American journalist Duane Finley was also noted and met with exhilaration. It was pointed out that Finley did not feel that Bahrain had the basis to form a solid foundation for the sport, but that his expectations were smashed. In his report, Finley highlighted the professionalism of the KHK team and all who are involved with the evident effect of MMA in Bahrain, a nation of cultural and ethnic diversity. “They aren’t just looking at the bigger picture; they are willing to do the work it takes to establish themselves and Bahraini MMA as a fixture on the global scene,” Finley wrote atBleacherReport.com. “It is going to take a lot of work to accomplish their goals, but the drive and the moxie to make that happen seem to be in large supply. Outside of the established names on the team’s roster, the rest of the collective talent is still in raw form, but that was the intention of the men behind the construction of KHK. They want to plant the seeds of a fight culture in Bahrain, and from what I saw over a several-day span on the island nation, that is currently underway.” Furthermore, IMMAF President Kerrith Brown made his second visit to Bahrain last week to meet with H.H. Sheikh Khalid, and media director Omar Abdulaziz Bukamal. Further cooperation was discussed between IMMAF and the Bahraini officials with a move towards further enhancing MMA on the local level, seeking also to spread promotion of the sport to the GCC region Arab Gulf States, with this being a strong aspiration of H.H. Sheikh Khalid. [/spb_text_block]

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