Brave FC launches Openweight GP, awarding a 14lbs Solid Gold Belt to Tournament Champion
Bahrain’s Brave CF and KHK MMA will hold a one night, four man open-weight grand prix tournament to determine the World’s greatest pound for pound fighter. The tournament registration isn’t limited to Brave CF fighters, but fighters from any organization if they have at least one professional fight. At Brave 30 on November 15th, the tournament winner will be awarded $150,000 and 14lbs (6.2kg) solid gold belt, the KHK World Championship Belt.
While in terms of size and weight, the belt is literally the biggest trophy in all of sports, but they wont stop there and let ONE Championship hog all of the hyperbole either as Brave president Mohammed Shahid stated that the trophy will “be compared with the FIFA World Cup.” Except that it looks like a giant Rolex wrist watch
Registration begins September 27th and ends October 10th. They will vet the applicants to a pool of 50 qualified fighters. Brave will then narrow the pool to 10 fighters and from that a draw will occur to select the four contestants and one alternate. The intention is to crown the worlds greatest pound for pound fighter, but a random draw to select the final four seems rather counter intuitive.
The event will take place on November 15th at Brave 30, during their International Combat Week, which they market as the largest combat sports festival in Asia, which will certainly receive some serious competition from the UFC’s Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, which they are committed to for 4 more years going forward.
In an YouTube interview with Brave CF commentators, Shahid discusses having fighters from Flyweight to Heavyweight prove they are the best fighter in the world. While Bellator is certainly in the business of cross promotion lately, it is unlikely to see any current UFC fighters participating in the tournament.
Bahraini prince Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa is the patron behind the KHK MMA Fight Team and Brave CF. With the royal family bankrolling the promotion and gym they made headlines in 2015 by bringing in UFC fighters Frankie Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov to join the team. While still training with AKA in America, Khabib would still fly to Bahrain for training and “make seminar”.
KHK MMA enjoys attaching their name to his success, in many interviews stating they played an integral in his rise to stardom. And as rising tides lift all ships, they seek to bring awareness and prestige to their brand, in the only way Middle Eastern Royalty knows how to. With the endless coffers of funny money.
The royal family of Bahrain is invested in MMA in the region and it will be interesting to see how this spending rivaliry develops between Bahrain/Brave CF and UAE/UFC. But regardless regional competition, the Bahraini royal family has invested in Khabib. After sustaining knee ligament injuries that they claim could have been career ending (if it weren’t for them of course) they bankrolled his treatments and recovery in 2016 in the lead up to his so far cursed Tony Ferguson fight. Khabib does acknowledge that their patronage was important to regaining his health, but it still feels like they are too willing to take an unrealistic amount of credit for Khabib’s performances.
The only component that really seems out of place in this Middle Eastern open weight odyssey is the prize money. The press release labels the $150,000 tax free cash prize money as ‘huge’ despite being below the average UFC fighter’s show money. They are putting an emphasis on how expensive the belt will be, but it is still surprisingly uncharacteristic for such wealthy patrons. Especially when PFL offers $1 million prizes to the winner of each weight division and doesn’t have a single fighter on the roster that is anywhere near the P4P discussion.
While it seems unlikely that they will be able to lure actual P4P talent, it still encouraging to see the sport trending towards the grand prix format again. But these tournaments and organizations will probably never a UFC P4P ranked fighter compete unless there is some seriously lopsided revenue sharing. Simply because the UFC doesn’t have to prove itself anymore. They don’t have to prove they have the top talent, everybody knows they have it and attract it. The UFC fought its way to the top of the food chain, and if the strategies involved in Fight Pass are any indicator, they intend to maintain that stranglehold on the market.