In February 2015, His Highness Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa founded Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa Mixed Martial Arts (KHK MMA). The CEO is Mohammed “The Hawk” Shahid, the first Bahraini mixed martial artist to compete internationally.
Headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, His Highness brought top-tier, second-tier and third-tier MMA fighters to the KHK MMA team. Top-tier fighters are high-caliber global fighters while second-tier fighters are those who just turned professional and third-tier fighters are the amateur fighters who needed support.
The top-tier fighters of KHK MMA are Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov, 30, of Dagestan, Russia and Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, 37, of Toms River, New Jersey, United States. The second-tiers are Frans “The Black Mamba” Mlambo, 27, and James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher, 22, of Dublin, Ireland, of Ireland and Jose “Shorty” Torres, 26, of Chicago, Illinois, USA.
“For the top-tier, we put Khabib on the map,” Shahid told me in an exclusive interview in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines. “Frankie, we thought he was old and done and dusted. We got him two title fights after that.”
Nurmagomedov has been reigning as the UFC Lightweight Champion since April 7, 2018 and is still undefeated with 27 wins while Edgar now has 23 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw. For the third-tier, KHK MMA made Bahrain’s national team the second best amateur team in the world.
Shahid said he and His Highness had great accomplishments with KHK MMA. However, they were sad because they could only do it for few people.
“Why would we restrict all these good things for 10 people?” Shahid recalled. “You know, let’s do it for the world. How do we do it? You know, how do we do it? Let’s start a promotion. Let’s change the system of mixed martial art.”
In 2016, His Highness founded Brave Combat Federation with Shahid as the president. Mlambo was one of the first athletes to be signed by the MMA promotion.
“Frans Mlambo, we signed him because he’s too talented to let go to anybody else,” Shahid said. “I was like, ‘We keep Frans Mlambo. I love the guy.’ He’s an amazing talent.”
On the other hand, Gallagher is currently signed with Bellator MMA while Torres recently joined Brave CF. The latter will make his promotional debut at “Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines on March 15, 2019.
“Brave 22: Storm of Warriors” will be headlined by reigning Brave CF Bantamweight Champion Stephen “The Sniper” Loman, 23, of the Philippines and former Brave CF Featherweight Champion Elias “Smile” Boudegzdame, 25, of France. Meanwhile, watch my full interview with Shahid here: