Manama: It’s 7:00 am in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. BRAVE Combat Federation President Mohammed Shahid wakes up for another day of work, to a bombardment of notifications on his phone.
BRAVE CF Athlete Relations & Matchmaking Board group have messaged to inform him yet another opponent has rejected a fight or dropped out of a fight against the two-time IMMAF Junior World champion Muhammad Mokaev.
Shahid knows Mokaev really well, he knows he has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in MMA, as he proved consistently during his 23-0 tenure as an amateur. Moreover, “The Punisher” is already in Sweden and can’t wait for his pro debut.
“The Hawk” Shahid is familiar with this feeling. A pro fighter himself, he understands how frustrating it is to have a fight canceled, especially your first one and when there’s so much expectation around you. He can’t and won’t let Mokaev leave Stockholm without a fight.
With a very strict Covid-19 policy in place, Shahid who has taken part in pretty much every single event from the Bahrain-based organization so far, sometimes with the craziest travel schedules you can imagine, gave up his own presence and kept commanding the operations remotely, in order to the keep the team numbers at minimum, complying with security regulations, and ensuring the safety of all people involved without compromising on BRAVE CF’s known quality standards.
As he reaches the office and sits at his desk, another message. One more fighter that would ready and medically cleared to take part in the fight against Mokaev has said “no” to the opportunity.
The sun is going down, and one more athlete had pulled from the fight against Mokaev when something unimaginable happened. A message on social media tagged BRAVE CF, Muhammad Mokaev, and Mohammad Shahid himself.
The notification pops, he opens his social media account and checks. It’s a video, from an amateur fighter from Belfast, Northern Ireland, called Glenn McVeigh. He claims he’s not only willing to travel all the way to Sweden to face Muhammad Mokaev but that he is going 100% going to beat him and derail the hype train.
Unlock the phone. Open text chain. “Guys, I need us to pull all our strings as quickly as possible. Let’s find out as much information as we can about Glenn McVeigh. Check on his record, find videos, call all your contacts in gyms and events in the United Kingdom, I need a report on him. I think we may have found our man”, he writes, sending alongside a link to the social media video in which he was tagged.
Soon, his phone is packed with info on Glenn McVeigh. Testimonies of people who saw him training, watched his fights, videos of some of his 16 amateur fights, from which he won 11, reports on his style and skillset.
Shahid sits back, that’s probably the first time he’s doing it since the day started, and starts reading, listening to the voice notes, and watching the videos. Roughly 90 minutes later he gets back to the Athlete Relations & Matchmaking Board. “I’m sold” he texts.
Upon the confirmation of his peers, he then gives the green light to the contract negotiation. Grabs his phone, calls the Operations Department and says: “I have a task for you guys, get this guy from Belfast to Stockholm, make sure he’s in compliance with our Covid-19 protocols, and ready to fight on Saturday. Can you do it?”.
As he’s hanging up, a message is waiting: “It was this quick, the guy is in. We’re ready to roll, boss”, he smiles and discretely celebrates.
It’s half-past ten in the evening, Shahid grabs his phone for the last time. Search contact, Muhammad Mokaev. “We’ve done it, get ready!”. It’s the message “The Punisher” was waiting for – a birthday present of sorts since he just turned 20 this Thursday.