Late last year, the Bahrain based Brave Combat Federation announced a historic move, as the organization became the first global MMA promotion (BFL was first regionally) to officially install the super lightweight (165lbs) division. The move would see the welterweight (170lbs) division move up five pounds and be rebranded as the super welterweight (175lbs) division, in accordance with the unified rules of MMA. The decision was made to give fighters the ability to compete at a healthy weight, without having to drop massive amounts of weight in order to stay competitive.
Mounir Lazzez Talks Brave CF 23
It was recently announced that the once beaten Eldar “Khan” Eldarov (10-1-0) would return to action after almost a year away from the cage to battle “The Sniper”, undefeated Mounir Lazzez (7-0-0) for the inaugural super lightweight title at Brave CF 23 in April. The history-making fight will be the first of three title bouts on the night. Lazzez spoke with MMASucka as he prepares for the contest.
He began by talking about what attracted him to the sport of mixed martial arts.
“I began taking classes in martial arts as a young kid back home in Tunisia because I had confidence issues. My parents thought it would be good for me to get involved in martial arts to build myself up. I eventually chose mixed martial arts for many reasons, one being that it is not an easy path, but here we are, undefeated at 7-0 in my professional career. ”
Lazzez appreciates the variety of approaches available in MMA.
“In MMA you are not limited to BJJ or kickboxing, but it includes many disciplines. MMA is the best way to challenge myself on the highest level. It is the fastest growing and most entertaining sport right now. It is more than just a fight, it is like war. Fighters have many different skill sets so you have to game plan and be ready for anything.”
The growth of mixed martial arts in the region has seen many top camps begin opening their doors to athletes who may not have had high-quality facilities and training options otherwise. Team Nogueira is one of these camps. Lazzez credits them for improving his ground game.
“Team Nogueira Dubai is one of the biggest gyms in the world, with schools in many countries. Team Nogueira provides the right platform for me to develop as a fighter and become a more well-rounded athlete. I am known as a striker, but I am not just a striker anymore. I am pushing every day to develop my defensive wrestling and ground game, and I appreciate Team Nogueira for providing me with the opportunity to get better as a member of their team.”
“The Sniper” began his professional career on the regional scene in Dubai.
“I started my professional career with Dubai FC here in Dubai. It felt good to get my first two wins as a professional under the Dubai FC banner. It was a good place for me to shine, show my abilities and gain experience at the same time.”
He captured his first championship in 2015, while competing as a welterweight for the Desert Force organization.
“I won the Desert Force title in 2015 and it was great. It meant a lot to me. The win was a great achievement for me because they had a couple of really good fighters in the division, so it meant a lot to climb up and capture the title. I faced Mohamad Ghorabi for the belt and it was a good back and forth fight. We finished victorious, AlHamdulillah for everything.”
The Tunisian-born striker spoke about the importance of Brave in the region.
“Brave has shown that they are not just a normal organization, but a global one. Brave has won several awards over the last two years. It is a great place for me to show my skills. A big thanks to Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Mohammed Shahid. They are the two behind this great work. It is an honor for me to be a part of this promotion.”
“I thank Sheikh Khalid for all of his support and everything that he has done for MMA in the region, in Asia and globally. To be honest, we are lucky to have him. He believed in and supported the fighter. All the best to him and his business.”
While he had already reached the status of champion on the regional scene, Lazzez had not yet performed on the big stage. That all changed at Brave 16. The opportunity to compete under the bright lights of a major organization has rattled many a fighter, but not the Team Nogueira representative, as he dispatched the previously unbeaten Dmitrijs Homjakovs in the second round.
“I did not feel any pressure in my debut for Brave. This is my dream, to face the best in the world. I had been preparing mentally for a bigger show than my last fight, and I got that when I signed with the Brave Combat Federation. My first fight with them was a huge event, but I was ready and AlHamdulillah, everything went well.”
With one victory under the Brave CF banner, it came as a bit of a surprise when the promotion offered him a title shot. With an unbeaten 7-0 mark as a professional, and with only one fight going the distance. It is easy to see why the opportunity presented itself so soon. Lazzez believes it is the perfect opportunity in the perfect division.
“I did not expect a title shot this soon because all of the divisions are stacked with competitors. I figured that I would need two or three more fights before a title fight, that was before they introduced the new weight-class. I was honestly too small for 170, and 155 was too big of a cut for me to make. 165 is the perfect division for me because it is not too big of a cut, and I will not be too small on fight night.”
“The Sniper” is well aware of his opponent’s strengths, but believes his well-rounded approach will be too much for the Russian standout.
“Eldar is a great fighter. He has an almost perfect record and is a world-class grappler. I don’t think he is an elite MMA fighter yet, but he is an elite wrestler. In MMA you have to be good everywhere. Like I said earlier, MMA requires more than one discipline. He is one of the best on the ground, but you are going to need more than that to defeat me.”
Lazzez competes on the same card as newly minted super welterweight champion Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi. He spoke about a potential superfight if the two are victorious in April.
“I was supposed to face Jarrah back in 2016 in Egypt I think, but he had to withdraw because of a back injury. The fight wasn’t meant to happen at that time. At the time we were only fighting Arabs, but now we have the opportunity to face international competitors. As for a superfight with Jarrah if I win this title, I don’t know. Jarrah is a great fighter and a smart fighter. I wish him all the best in his career. Right now I am focused on Eldar and the title, after that we can defend the belt or who knows. I prefer to take things step by step, so my focus is on my fight with Eldar at the moment. God bless and protect all the fighters and their families.”
Like lightweight champion Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady and super welterweight champion Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi, “The Sniper” hopes a title win will bring Brave to his home country of Tunisia.
“100 percent! If I win I want to defend my belt in front of my people in my home country!
Lazzez wanted to let all of his fans know that he is coming to put on a show.
“This is the biggest fight in my career. This opportunity is a dream come true. I have been training and preparing for this fight since day one. I am going there to put everything on the line. There will be fireworks. I don’t see this fight going the distance. Get your ticket everyone. You will see one of the best fighters in the history of the Arab region.”
Lazzez wanted to take time out to thank his sponsors and supporters.
“I would love to thank MTK Global and my main man Dan for all of the support and belief they have in me. We will get this belt together, Inshallah. No doubt about it.