Desert Force’s plans in Jordan

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Arifa, presenter for Desert Force / Photo: publicity

The Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Jordan – overseen by His Highness Prince Hussein Mirza, nephew of His Majesty King Abdullah II – is linked to the National Olympic Committee. The federation is one of the most active in the region, installing Jiu-Jitsu and MMA in a number of military and civilian institutions.

Besides fomenting the practice of martial arts in the country, it is now providing incentive for such practice in the greater Arab community. Spearheading this project is black belt Zaid Mirza, who had a quick chat with following the second installment of Desert Force, an event produced by X-Sports Management, a company promoting major sporting events in the Middle East.

What is your assessment of this tournament promoting athletes from the Arab world?

Zaid Mirza: We put DFC together in order to scout Arab talent. We always have superfights with foreigners where belts are on the line, to add an air of professionalism for the spectators, but the point is to launch Arab talent. One of the aims is to professionalize our athletes to one day catapult them into major events like the UFC, Strikeforce or Shooto.

In the first installment half the fights were between Arab fighters. This time there were ten fights and eight of them were between Arab fighters. The more popular the event becomes, the greater the likelihood of the fights being of a high technical level. The idea is to produce eight events next year and twelve the year after. From what we’ve seen so far, there’s no lack of talent in the Arab world!

How many countries does the event reach today?

We now have a partnership with a satellite TV channel, Roya TV, which reaches forty countries across the planet. We’re looking to popularize the show in 22 Arab nations, as well as Turkey and Iran for their geographic and cultural proximity to the Arab world. We plan to bring in fighters from those countries and even open the tournament up to fighters of Arab backgrounds in Europe, where there’s a large community. These past two installments were broadcast and next year they’ll be shown on the air live. The third installment is set for July and the next after that, September; always promoting regional talent. We also innovated by having a female presenter, Jordan’s Arifa Bseiso, who announces the fights and interviews the fighters afterwards.

How about Jiu-Jitsu, what do you have brewing on that front?

For October, we’re putting together the inaugural Arab Cup, in the same mold as DFC. That is, it will be a tournament geared towards the Arab world. Jiu-Jitsu is going through extraordinary growth in the region and Jordan has been exhibiting a high level. We want to be a focal point providing incentive to other countries in the region. The Arab Emirates is to be congratulated for spearheading the sport through their initiatives, and we want to help too. We’re also working in neighboring nations to launch history’s first Arab Federation. It would be a huge stride in growing and developing the sport in the region. We’re also drumming up an out-of-this-world worldwide event for the end of the year, called Grapplers Hold’em.

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