Tahnoon’s son’s place is in the arena

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For more than ten years GRACIEMAG has kept up with the trajectory of some kids whose adoptive father gives them all the backing they need to stand out in combat sports. The father is none other than crown prince of Abu Dhabi and founder of the ADCC Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, and he has always encouraged the boys to compete in Jiu-Jitsu, judo and wrestling. The inevitable result of the father’s backing is the countless titles the boys, now adults, have conquered.

But what our great motivator never imagined was that one of these boys would opt for another modality, MMA. GRACIEMAG.com caught up with Hassan al Rumaidi after his win at the new ADFC promotion last May 14 and  reveals what is going on in the head of the Arab Emirates’ first MMA champion.

Hassan, between Alex Negão and Maiky.

Hassan, unlike your brothers, who stuck with the other styles, you opted for MMA. How did that come about?
Truth is I always liked Thai boxing, but when I was a kid my father thought it best I stick to grappling. In the last two years, though, I started practicing it and the guys realized I had a knack. A year ago Alex Negão and Maiky Reiter arrived here. They had MMA experience and so I started training with them.

You have three fights on your record: two in Holland and one in Abu Dhabi. Which of them do you feel was the most important?
All of them were fundamental, as I was just starting out, but it’s certainly the last one because it was in my country and because it was a big event. That is the most significant one so far.

Hassan gets the takedown at the ADFC. Foto: Publicity.

Were you more anxious about that one?
Yes. But just because I was fighting at home and I wanted to live up to the public’s expectations. I feel really comfortable in the ring. I’m less anxious about it than I am at a judo or Jiu-Jitsu tournament.

What’s the next challenge awaiting you?
Every training session is a challenge. We have excellent fighters here who are helping me in training, which is getting tougher and tougher. Professor Cezário (Anderson Silva’s boxing coach) hung around here after the UFC to help us and we have really grueling training sessions every day. I know I’m just starting out and I have a ways to improve, but I’m confident I have the right people with me at the right place and time.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohamad bin Zayed for making the practice of sports by our people possible and Sheikh Tahnoon for always encouraging me and my brothers. I’d also like to thank my trainers and training partners, mainly Lifei Vali, who was the first to believe in my potential in this style. And I promise to do my all to open doors for others from my people to be able to get in the ring

Tahnoon in 1999, among tough guys of the future. Photo: Ricardo Azoury.

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