Hooray, everyone gets a prize!
In what’s turned out to be a rare crossover story with Fightlinker’s sister site, Bellator has been trying to sign Sengoku veteran Mamed Khalidov to enter next season’s middleweight tournament, but has ran into a rather unusual roadblock… it interferes with Ramadan. Sherdog tells the tale:
Asked during a May 14 news conference why Bellator had not yet signed the highly regarded free agent, Rebney cited a “lack of willingness” on the part of Khalidov’s management to work with his promotion, as well as a need to “explain to them what the opportunity is.”
Speaking to Sherdog.com this week, Khalidov was quick to assert that the breakdown in negotiations was not due to the unwillingness of his management but rather Khalidov’s own priorities outside the cage.
“Ultimately, the next middleweight tournament begins in September and I, because I’m Muslim, have to fast for the length of August,” said Khalidov, referring to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which in 2011 will be observed Aug. 1-29. During that period, Muslims are prohibited from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, an obvious impediment to MMA training.
“I don’t train at all during this period, and there’s no way I could fight as early as September,” explained the Chechen-born fighter. “I need at least two months to prepare and, for me, the fasting is more important than fights in Bellator or even [Polish promotion Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki].”
Besides Bellator’s can-smashing champ, Khalidov is basically the only top-20 middleweight outside the UFC/Strikeforce/Zuffa umbrella, and would surely have been the favourite to tear through the tournament and finally give Lombard some decent competition. But of course, religion had to go and ruin everyone’s fun, or at least postpone it… let’s just hope the next season doesn’t happen to coincide with a pilgrimage to Mecca or some shit.
When he said “or even” before mentioning KSW, I hope that was his way of giving props to his main employer, because implying that they’re somehow above Bellator is downright laughable. Khalidov currently holds KSW’s light heavyweight belt, which he won by KO’ing some scrub you’ve never heard of (who now fights at welterweight) in just over a minute. His next can opponent will be poor old Matt “Is He Dead?” Lindland in a middleweight bout at KSW 16 this weekend, which will be co-headlined by the much-anticipated Mariusz “The Polish Lobster” Pudzianowski vs James “Gong n’ Dash” Thompson. I never thought I’d say this, but think I’m going with Thompson on this one. As for Lindland, I just hope we don’t end up running an article on Sunday that includes the phrase “and then he stopped breathing.” So yeah, if that doesn’t tell you where KSW is at in the grand scheme of things, allow me to summarize by saying “they suck”.