Just as is Complexo do Alemão (formerly violence-stricken low-income community), Wallid Ismail, 43, is at peace. “The war is over,” said the Jungle Fight kingpin to GRACIEMAG.com over the phone.
The Carlson Gracie student originally from Amazonas state is referring to the feud with smaller Brazilian domestic events. “These days I’m happy about other events copying Jungle Fight. It shows we’re doing things right, since you only copy what works.”
Even having missed a plane in Brasilia, due to a canceled connecting flight, Wallid is in good cheer. One of the reasons is the whopping article on Jungle Fight in “O Globo” newspaper today. In the article signed by Ary Cunha, the black belt confirms that Jungle Fight is working hard on putting together a free show for the residents of Complexo do Alemão next September, marking eight years that Wallid’s event has been around.
“It’s for real, it’s set for September. There’s a soccer pitch and arena in Alemão, we’ll decide where it will be after talking to the mayor, the governor, and all the powers that be. This was always Jungle’s goal, to break barriers and do something different. We’ve already had a show in the Amazon jungle, on the beach; now it’s time to entertain a population that has been through some rough times. It was a favela, now it’s a neighborhood where there’s peace, electricity, water and security. Why not have first-rate fun too?” he asks.
Despite the proximity of the date for Jungle Fight at Complexo do Alemão and that of UFC Rio, in late August, Wallid isn’t excited about the droves of international stars and fans being in the city, which could perhaps lend Jungle exposure. “We don’t need that, Jungle Fight was never one to piggyback on the UFC. The UFC is the UFC; Jungle is Jungle. We’re working on further growth within Latin America and feeding athletes to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It would be ugly to catch a ride with UFC Rio. Jungle in the Alemão neighborhood will have its own crowd, and a lot of athletes are calling in asking to participate in the event since the ‘Globo’ article came out. MMA has the potential and grandeur to enchant the public; imagine how many new fight stars can come out of Alemão…” said Wallid dreamily.